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Thai politics Thailand

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.)

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Thai politics Thailand

Reuters on Yesterday’s Red Shirt Rally

Reuters reports:

Thailand’s “red shirts” turned out in force on Sunday to warn the judiciary they will not stand by if a plan to amend the constitution is rejected, a rewrite critics say is aimed at allowing exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra to come home.

And:

According to police estimates, 35,000 red shirts had gathered at Democracy Monument in central Bangkok by late afternoon, many from Thaksin strongholds in the north and northeast, meeting in a festive atmosphere under light police presence.

And:

The red shirts chose June 24 for their latest gathering as it marks the anniversary of a revolution that brought an end to absolute monarchy in 1932.

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Thai politics

Red Shirt 112 Sticker Evokes Pizza Company Logo

2012 06 22 112 pizza co

Related to my last post

@Anasuya found this notable sticker today at a Red Shirt event here in Bangkok.

Yes, it refers to lèse-majesté — Article 112 of the Thai criminal code — and is modeled on…the Pizza Company logo.

Pizza Company restaurants are popular and widespread here in Thailand, and their advertisements often include a jingle with the number you dial for delivery: 1112.

Hence, the play on 112 and the (likely unintentionally misspelled) reference to “fast derivery.”

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Thai politics

Yellow Shirts Protest Update: Next Week’s Bill Deliberation Cancelled

2012 06 02 yellow shirts front pages

A quick follow-up post on yesterday’s Yellow Shirt protests over the bill that could lead to Thaksin’s return…

Many people here in Thailand, as well as Thailand-watchers abroad, may well be thinking: Here we go again.

The WSJ reported yesterday:

Around 2,000 followers of the so-called Yellow Shirt movement swarmed around the Parliament building, preventing legislators from getting in. The action recalled the massive and sometimes violent political protests in recent years that at times destabilized business and tourism on one of Southeast Asia’s linchpin economies, and raised fears of a possible reprise in the weeks or months ahead.

Political analysts say Friday’s scenes show that a long-simmering question—the fate of Mr. Thaksin, who now lives in exile in Dubai—is coming to the boil, threatening a fragile détente between his supporters in the current government and the military and conservative bureaucrats who removed him from power in a bloodless coup in 2006.

And:

The siblings have made efforts to reconcile with the establishment forces that ousted Mr. Thaksin, say academics and Thailand analysts. Ms. Yingluck in particular has worked to build closer ties with military leaders and key establishment figures such as chief royal adviser, Prem Tinsulanonda, these people say. If the Yingluck government is intent on bringing Mr. Thaksin back to Thailand, they say, now is the time to push through the necessary legislation.

The story also touches on divisions in the Red Shirt camp and the prospects of the Yellow Shirts being able to organize sufficiently large protests going forward.

Reuters ran a story yesterday, as well.

AFP has this story today:

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Saturday warned the deeply divided kingdom faces a “cycle of violence” unless steps are taken towards reconciliation after years of civil unrest.

And finally, MCOT reports today:

House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont on Saturday decided to cancel next week’s parliamentary sessions regarding charter amendment and national reconciliation bills following recent chaos and disruption in the parliament.

Deputy House Speaker Charoen Chankomol said Mr Somsak decided to suspend the planned meeting on June 5 to deliberate the charter amendment and the June 6-7 sessions on the proposed reconciliation bills.

Mr Charoen said the House Speaker will call a meeting of representatives from both the government and opposition next Tuesday to find solutions, and if there is still problem with the deliberation of the reconciliation bills, other pending bills may be raised for consideration instead.

Meanwhile, the Red Shirts themselves held a rally today at the Thunderdome arena, in Bangkok’s north.

This Tweet and image came through at 1:20 p.m. Bangkok time from @LyNGinG.

So, what comes next?

Will Yingluck and Pheu Thai continue to push for the bills’ passage, perhaps a week or two down the line? Or will they abandon their efforts for now?

Will the Yellow Shirts continue to block Parliament in an effort to derail voting?

Will the Red Shirts begin protesting again?

What if the vote goes ahead, and the bill is passed?

Image above: Today’s IHT and Bangkok Post front pages.

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Thai politics Thailand

Red shirts to hold anniversary rally on March 12

AP has this story today:

Thailand’s ‘Red Shirts’ urge release of colleagues

Seven recently freed leaders of Thailand’s anti-government “Red Shirt” movement called Sunday for the release of more than 180 of their colleagues who remain jailed since a violent military crackdown last year.

The seven gathered for a ceremony at Bangkok’s Wat Pathuwanaram temple, where six people were fatally shot last year as the army swept demonstrators from the streets to end weeks of mass protests that shook the city and left nearly 90 people dead.

And:

The Red Shirts have nevertheless vowed to stage another large rally on March 12 – the anniversary of the start of last year’s mass protests, which shut down swathes of the city including major shopping malls and hotels, and ended with more around 1,400 people injured.

(Emphasis mine.)