Now that the red shirt protests have come to an end (or paused?) ((The demonstrations seem to be over for now, that is. The red shirts say they’ll be back on Sat., March 27.)), here’s the question: What now?
Here are a few observations and questions, many of which I expect to re-visit in subsequent posts:
No doubt the notion of a controlled protest that involves the splattering of human blood seems contradictory. But I can tell you, from witnessing the events at Government House and the prime minister’s residence, that the police dealt with the crowds in a measured, well-coordinated manner.
To wit: I spent many hours attending red shirt protests and observing the red shirt caravans that paraded around town, and the onlookers overwhelmingly greeted the red demonstrators warmly. For example, see the image below, in which what appear to be everyday folks — not protesters who are wearing red attire — have come out to cheer the protesters on.
This is notable because the red shirts are typically characterized as being farmers from the north and northeast who are at odds with the Bangkok middle class, business establishment, and bureaucracy. ((Yes, I realize that it’s possible that these pedestrians are also from the provinces.))
People I have talked to have said that the reds’ use of blood was meant to appeal to their own base, and to seize the attention of those in power. So perhaps that’s all the red shirt leaders care about.
Still, Thaksin’s image could be seen on many, many signs and banners, such as the flag below. Thaksin is undoubtedly popular among many red shirts. But will the man prove to be a stumbling block to the red shirt movement?
That’s it for now. More on this soon, I’m sure.
By the way, my five observations from last year — after the Songkran unrest ended — are similar to some of these thoughts. That’s testament, I suppose, to the intractability of the problem.