in Thai politics

Update: red shirts gather here in Bangkok

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An update to my previous post:

I spent several hours at Bangkok’s Rajaprasong intersection today, where thousands of red shirts gathered to mark the anniversaries of the 2006 military coup and the May army crackdown. At various times, the crowds of protesters nearly shut down the intersection, though single lanes of traffic were still able to creep through.

It was striking to see so many demonstrators back in the very place they’d occupied a few month before — and the burned portions of Central World shopping mall visible in the background, as well as an impromptu shrine to those killed in the dispersal, served as a reminder of how things ended.

A few quick observations:

  1. Many of the people with whom I spoke were surprised at how many red shirts turned out. I was expecting hundreds, not several thousand.
  2. The gathering was, in many ways, similar to the previous demonstrations in Bangkok. There was a sea of red; there was dancing and screaming and clapping; there was red shirt merchandise for sale; and — of course — there were snacks. Many snacks.
  3. All of the protesters were clearly in violation of the state of the emergency, which is still in effect here in Bangkok. That makes gatherings of more than five people illegal. The police stood by, looking on sheepishly. They were vastly outnumbered, after all.
  4. While many of the previous red shirt demonstrations had an angry feel — particularly toward the end — today’s gathering felt positive, up-beat, and lighthearted. There was some chanting against the government, but the mood today was more like: “we’re back, so let’s sing and dance — we haven’t gone away.”

For more details on what I saw, check out my Tweets from today.

And here are some images I posted to Twitpic:

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Rajaprasong intersection

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A T-shirt for sale

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Releasing balloons