Red Shirt Rajaprasong Rally: News Round-Up

2012 05 21 bangkok post thaksin

Just a quick follow-up to my last post:

For news about Saturday’s red shirt gathering at Rajaprasong to mark the second anniversary of the May 19 army crackdown, you can find stories from:

Elsewhere, GlobalVoices has a collection of images and various reports about the event.

Photo above: Sunday’s Bangkok Post front page.

Red Shirts at Rajaprasong: Some photos so far

2012 05 19 reds rajaprasong

Today is the second anniversary of the May 19, 2010 army crackdown on red shirt protesters in central Bangkok.

As I mentioned earlier, red shirts and others are gathering at Rajaprasong today to mark the occasion.

This AP piece provides some context. Here’s an AFP story about today’s rally. And here’s a post I wrote about my experiences on that day in 2010.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to update this post later, so I wanted to provide a few images of today’s gathering that I’ve come across on Twitter.

As ever, Richard Barrow is Tweeting from the scene. He snapped the panoramic photo above at 3:09 p.m. Bangkok time. Here’s a bigger version.

Richard says the following events are on tap for the rest of the day:

2012 05 19 reds rajaprasong 2

Above is another photo from about half an hour earlier, courtesy of Pailin C (@_Willowtree_).

I think it’s safe to assume that crowds will grow as the day continues and temperatures drop.

The intersection is closed to traffic, and MCOT has advised motorists to avoid the area.

And shoppers who had planned to visit the adjacent CentralWorld should be advised that the mall has now closed, MCOT says:

For ongoing updates, you can find me on Twitter: @Newley. Here’s my Thailand Twitter list and my list of Bangkok journalists on Twitter.

In addition, of course, you can consult The Bangkok Post and The Nation.

Red Shirts to Rally Sat. at Rajaprasong Intersection

MCOT reports today:

Some 200,000 red shirt supporters are expected to join activities held by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) — the red shirt movement — to mark the second anniversary Saturday of the 2010 protest against the then Abhisit Vejjajiva administration, red shirt co-leader Jatuporn Prompan said on Thursday.

Mr Jatuporn, also a Pheu Thai MP, said a stage would be set up beneath the Chit Lom BTS Skytrain station for activities at Ratchaprasong, Bangkok’s prime business and shopping zone, to mark the second anniversary of the May 19 protest clampdown.

He said some 200,000 Red Shirt supporters are likely to join the event. Ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra will address the crowd via video link between 7 and 8pm and will praise those who lost their lives during the protest.

Elsewhere, The Nation says:

Thousands of protesters are to mark the secondanniversary Saturday of a crackdown on anti-government demonstrationsin central Bangkok, which left up to 102 people dead.

You will see about 100,000 people coming to Ratchaprasong Road inmemory of those who died,” Thida Tavornseth – chairwoman of theUnited Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), also known asthe red shirts – said Thursday.

And The Bangkok Post reports:

A total of 1,200 police will be deployed to ensure peace and order during the mass gathering of the red-shirts at Ratchaprasong intersection on Saturday, the second anniversary of the May 19 bloodshed, a police spokesman said.

100,000 red shirts? 200,000 red shirts?

Obviously, protest organizers worldwide are often likely to project a huge turnout for such events. It will be interesting to see how many UDD members — not to mention curious onlookers — show up on Sat.

Red Shirts Rally in Khao Yai

2012 02 26 red shirts khao yai

The Bangkok Post reports:

The red-shirt movement’s drive to amend the constitution and oppose a future military coup has gained momentum with an estimated 30,000 supporters gathering at Bonanza Khao Yai in Nakhon Ratchasima on Saturday evening.

Members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and governing Pheu Thai Party loyalists from all over the country began converging on the resort in in Pak Chong district on Friday evening.

Among the UDD core leaders and Pheu Thai MPs attending the event were UDD chairwoman Tida Tawornseth, her husband Weng Tojirakarn, and Jatuporn Prompan.

Mrs Tida said the 2007 constitution had been used for five years and Thai society had seen its best and worst points. The UDD rally, she said, showed there were many people who wanted to declare that they did not accept the post-coup charter.

Meanwhile:

The yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Demcocracy (PAD) has been threatening to regroup and step up its protests if the charter amendments go ahead.

Some hard-core PAD members are even said to favour a military coup to prevent the passage of a new charter that they believe could consolidate the power of Thaksin and his allies.

Meanwhile, Tul Sitthisomwong, a core member of the Network of Citizen Volunteers to Protect the Land, or the multicoloured-shirt group, told 100 supporters at Victory Monument that his group would also oppose changing the charter.

Elsewhere, The Nation has this story about the red shirt gathering:

Red-shirt supporters of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra began to gather at Bonanza Square in Khao Yai National Park yesterday, in the heat of the day, for a “Stop the Coup, Change the Charter” concert – their first rally in months.

And:

More than 10,000 people had arrived at the venue before dusk. Police Major General Phanu Kerdlarpphol, head of Region 3 police, said 500 officers had been deployed for the concert.

Police will monitor the concert for any violations in regard to lese majeste. Video and picture cameras would be used.

For background info on the efforts to change the Thai constitution, see the AP story I linked to in my last post.

(All emphasis mine.)

(Image: The Nation.)

Red shirts mark anniversary of army crackdown

2011 05 20 reds protest

Anti-government red shirt demonstrators rallied here in Bangkok yesterday to mark the anniversary of the May 19 army crackdown.

The CSM provides some details on the protest and looks ahead to the July 3 elections, noting that moderates will be key:

Thousands of opposition supporters in their trademark red shirts rallied Thursday in the Thai capital to mark the anniversary of a military crackdown on chaotic protests that left 92 dead. The rally was among the largest held in recent months and comes as Thai political parties kick off their campaigns for closely watched parliamentary elections on July 3.

And:

While the red shirts have built a strong base that helps the PTP, analysts say the election may hinge on the mood among nonpartisan voters, as well as local dynamics in constituency contests. A large number of voters have not picked a party, according to recent polls, and may be turned off by the partisan style of color-coded street protests.

Reuters says that “a year on, mystery shrouds Thailand’s deadly unrest”:

A 30-metre (98-ft) corrugated iron wall masks the remnants of a mysterious arson attack a year ago on Southeast Asia’s second-biggest shopping mall, a reminder of Thailand’s struggle to tame a crisis many fear could turn violent again during elections.

The Bangkok Post says 20,000 were in attendance:

Around 20,000 red shirt supporters yesterday attended a gathering at Ratchaprasong intersection to mark the one-year anniversary of the clashes between red shirt protesters and security forces on May 19 last year.

And the FT‘s beyondbrics blog asks, “After Thailand’s elections, what next?”

Elections are supposed to solve political conflicts, not exacerbate them.

Thailand’s bitter divisions are about to be tested at the ballot box, but the real fight for power is likely to take place after the vote rather than before it.

(Image: Bangkok Post.)

UPDATE:

The BBC also has a piece featuring Thai journalist Karuna Buakamsri. Worth a look. And here’s an AP story, as well.

Red shirts claim army preparing for coup

A Bangkok Post story from late today:

UDD again claims army preparing for a coup

Core members of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) claim the army’s show of force this week is clear evidence of preparations for a coup to block the general election.

And a story from the Nation today:

Red-shirt leaders blow whistle on coup

Pheu Thai MP Jatuporn Promphan said Army Chief of Staff General Dapong Rattanasuwan should explain why he urgenly summoned three key commanders to meet him at his residence on Wednesday’s night.

The three commanders were from the First, Second and Ninth Divisions based in Bangkok, Prachin Buri and Kanchanaburi respectively. All three divisions were involved in the 2006 coup.

Red-shirt leader Natthawut Saikua said he suspected the Army was plotting a coup under the disguise of ensuring preparedness to uphold the monarchy.

Natthawut claimed the mock exercise on preparedness was actually a checking campaign to rally the subordinates before staging the power seizure.

He said under the coup plotters would work in three steps – trying to revoke the bail of red-shirt leaders, ensuring the House dissolution in the first week of May and seizing power of the caretaker government.

Just noting these stories for the record.

More images of the red shirts at Rajaprasong intersection

Following yesterday’s post, I wanted to share some additional images of the red shirts’ protest at Bangkok’s Rajaprasong intersection. Thanks to my brother M, who’s in town visiting, for snapping most of these when my hands were full (see final image). Commentary to come in a later post.

For now, a thought — and yes, this is stating the obvious: Over the last three and a half weeks, the red shirts have occupied Rajadamnoen Rd, conducted their “mobile rallies,” demonstrated outside the 11th army regiment (and forced talks with the PM), and now taken control of one of the city’s most important intersections.

These actions seem to be part of a strategy to slowly, bit by bit, ratchet up the pressure on the Thai government, using non-violent tactics. How long will the government allow this to continue? Will the government simply wait the red shirts out? Is there a breaking point? Will there be a public uprising against the reds as life becomes more difficult for everyday citizens?

There are a few more pics in the full Flickr photoset.