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Thailand: Revenge of the reds

The reds are already in the Parliament gates!

They are not communists. They are not armed rebels. They are anti-government protesters wearing red-shirts and carrying red banners. They are not the protesters who occupied Thailand’s airports last month.

Yellow is the color of the airport protesters; while the protesters who have camped outside the Parliament building last December 28 have chosen red as their protest color. The yellow protesters belong to the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD). The red protesters belong to the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD).

The yellow protesters hate former Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra. They have accused the two succeeding Thai prime ministers of being puppets of Thaksin. To force the removal of the elected government, they organized street actions last August. They occupied the airports last month. They achieved their goal when the court ruled that the ruling party was guilty of electoral fraud. They are supporting the leadership of incumbent Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The red protesters are supporters of Thaksin and the former ruling party. They believe the incumbent prime minister is illegitimate. They want to dissolve the Parliament; they want a new round of elections.

Both groups have claimed they support democracy. Both groups have denounced dictatorship. Both parties have mobilized thousands of their members to assert their demands.

The yellow protesters have already succeeded. Now, the red protesters are beginning to use the tactics of their yellow counterparts in order to undermine the current administration. When they were in the streets a few weeks ago, PAD members were called fascists by their critics. Today, PAD denounces the DAAD as “red-shirt gangsters.”

After three days of camping outside the Parliament building, the red protesters have dispersed peacefully. They were able to delay the inauguration speech of the new leader. The Parliament session was moved to another venue. The red protesters have vowed to return to the streets after the New Year’s festivities.

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Pictures from schoenes-thailand

Andrew Walker of New Mandala uploads an article written by Jim Taylor who has interviewed some of the red protesters:

“The many villagers that I talked to expressed openly a bitter disappointment and profound sadness in what they see as the biased political leanings of the highest order in society. Most traditional Red supporters in the street were too fearful according to many informants to turn up at Parliament given the media warnings of police and army intervention.

“But, the Red campaign, as many rally goers told me, is much more than simply Thaksin now. The question is one of Thai democracy. Rural voters are no longer ignorant of what they can expect and should expect in resource allocation and political participation since Thaksin’s time and grasp well the concepts of true democracy and social equity.”

BangkokDan is disappointed that the red protesters are copying the tactics of the yellows:

“The red shirts, attempting to force Thailand’s new unelected government to dissolve the house for new elections, have a serious image problem. Their tactics look like a virtual carbon-copy of those used by the opposite yellow shirts.

“Even though, put simply, the aims of the yellows and reds are virtually the same. They just they want to put their own people into office. Tit for tat and tat for tit.

“By xeroxing the yellows they do themselves a great disservice. State your points, demonstrate some civilized anger. But insist on peaceful ways and patience. Sabotage only strengthens a doomed government. Rather sooner than later there will be elections and things fall into place.”

Jotman is worried that the political situation will worsen:

“It seems to me that confrontation between police and army units and red demonstrators is somewhat more likely than when the protesters wore yellow shirts.

“Whereas the red shirt mob is from out of town, the yellow shirt mob — whose heavy-handed tactics heralded in the new government — had been comprised of many Bangkok residents. It may seem simplistic to emphasize geography at a time like this, but if these protests lead to violence, regional loyalties will be accentuated. To say that these developments do not bode well for national unity would be an understatement.”

Thai Intelligent News Weblog notes that the red protesters have modified their slogans to show that they are more than just Thaksin supporters:

“Judging by previous red shirt gatherings, it is clear there is a strong Thaksin flavor to it. There used to be big video projections ready for Thaksin phone in or video tapes of Thaksin, and the red shirt used to carry a lot of banner about Thaksin. Come this time around, at the current gathering at Parliament house, a great deal have changed.

“Even the banners that the red shirt people, individually made them, bought to gathering, there are very few about Thaksin. What happened? Why the change? The best answer comes from a host of different people, mostly technocrats on the side of Democracy, who kept suggesting that the red shirt “could be much more effective if it cut down the Thaksin play and tuned up its message on Democracy.”

Because it relied on extralegal means to grab power, Thailand Jumped the Shark believes the government has little credibility:

“The Democrats have nobody to blame but themselves. They have no credibility. They could have taken a strong stand against the illegal tactics of the PAD. Instead, thet used the thuggish PAD tactics, the courts and the behind the scenes persuasiveness of the army to come to power. Now, they think the Reds should roll over for them, because they are cute Democrats with beautiful English accents and foreign degrees. Typical elitist mentality.

“Funny, when Abhisit was in the opposition, he called for a dissolution of parliament to end the impasse. I doubt you will be hearing that from Abhisit now.”

Via Twitter, Thailandreport gives updates:

…parliament meeting is moving to MoF

…there are some injuries now

…parliament meeting was postponed from yesterday to today. will it happen? red mob is still there.

…parliament meeting today was canceled due to red mobs

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