in Thai politics

Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts Scuffle in Bangkok

Events in Bangkok yesterday provided a reminder of ongoing political tensions in Thailand, with rival red shirt and yellow shirt supporters involved in street clashes.

The Bangkok Post reports:

Confrontations between the red- and yellow-shirt groups are likely to intensify after yesterday’s clash outside the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) left scores of people from both sides injured.

The clash erupted around noon during a stand-off between red shirts and yellow shirts who had gathered outside the CSD.

Tensions escalated about 11am when a group of yellow shirts smashed the windshield of a truck belonging to red-shirt radio station FM90.25.

An ensuing scuffle left red-shirt member Visorndaeng Traisuwaan, 35, with a head injury.

A yellow-shirt member, Chatchai Sutheesopon, 48, who was accused of carrying a hand gun by the red shirts, also suffered a head injury after he was hit in the back of the head during the scuffle. Police who searched him later found no weapons on him.

The Post says the unrest began when yellow shirts gathered to support an ex-teacher who had accused a prominent red shirt, Darunee Kritbunyalai, of lèse-majesté. The red shirts, meanwhile, had assembled to support Darunee.

The story continues:

The ugly confrontation carried on for about two hours before supporters of Ms Manasnant began to retreat to nearby department stores, seeing they were outnumbered by red shirts whose numbers grew with new arrivals.

The stand-off ended about 3pm after the area around the CSD compound along with most of Bangkok was hit by heavy downpours.

You can see some photos and a video of the clashes in a Thai Rath video, which is embedded above and on YouTube here. Things heat up a couple of minute in. Thai Rath also has a story (in Thai) here.

A brief ABC Australia report puts the numbers of protesters at 200 per camp.

Elsewhere, a Bangkok Post editorial headlined “Minor clash, strong message” says:

The confrontation, which culminated in a clash, appeared to be intentional. Both sides used their social media to advise their members for days about a scheduled meeting between a lawyer of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and Crime Suppression Division (CSD) officers on a defamation case.

And:

“The situation was contained, but what will happen if the situation goes out of control next time,” said Thawee Surarittikul, a political analyst at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University.

Both sides are waiting for an issue which could be a trigger point leading to a bigger protest,” he said.

The clashes seem notable to me in part because they involve red shirts and yellow shirts in direct confrontation. We often see these factions rallying separately, without engaging one another.

(Thai Rath links via BP.)