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Thailand: “Bloody” Tuesday?

The Red Shirts will continue to march in the streets after learning that Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has rejected the protesters’ demands to dissolve the parliament and conduct a new round of elections. But the latest protest tactic promises to be “bloody” as organizers announced that they will collect 1 million cubic centimeters of protesters’ blood, or about 264 gallons (1,000 liters) and will throw the blood at the Government House in Bangkok by Tuesday evening.

The Red Shirts were able to mobilize at least a hundred thousand people in the streets last Sunday prompting the government to deploy more than 50,000 security forces in the capital. The following video clip shows a big assembly of Red Shirts last weekend

Why are the Red Shirts protesting in the streets? Marc Askew interviewed the rally participants and summarized their demands:

They agree that the parliament should be dissolved and new elections held so as to “return power to the people.”
They argue that the Thai press and media cannot be trusted to portray the red shirt cause accurately, in contrast to the foreign media, which they believe “knows what’s really going on” in the country viz-a-viz political power.
They utterly reject the reports that people are paid to attend major red shirt rallies, as related in the press and among their opponents.

Saiyasombut commends the Red Shirts for conducting peaceful rallies but rejects the “blood protest”

So far, the fact the protests have been peaceful and no bigger problems (or even violence) have occurred can be counted as a success and confident boost for the Red Shirts. But now they risk to lose all the momentum for this more than questionable stunt. First, there is the logistic problem: how on earth are they going to get enough blood of 100,000 people in just one night?

Secondly is a medical one: how are they going to get enough clean needles? The Thai Red Cross has refused to help, pointing out medical consequences of improper use.

And finally the question is: what do they want to achieve with this? Unless they want to deliberately create a big hygienic mess I don’t see anything being solved here!

Siam Report warns the Red Shirts that the “blood protest” would erode the group’s credibility

…the reds shirts have thus far had a successful rally. They didn't reach a million people and no House dissolution, but at least 100,000 turned up and the protest was conducted in a peaceful manner. However, if the red leaders decide to go through with this symbolic blood splattering stunt, you can be sure that it will be received very poorly internationally. Such a stunt is perfect ammunition for the anti-red media, and really to any observer, it is an illegal act of vandalism and something a teenager would do.

Red Shirts convoy. Picture by photo_journ

Red Shirts convoy. Picture by photo_journ


Red Shirt supporters. Photo by Robin Thailand

Red Shirt supporters. Photo by Robin Thailand

Jon Dent participated in the March 15 rally and blogged about what he witnessed:

Walking towards the main stage, we saw groups of people walking while others sought shade from the mid-day sun. There were signs in English (“Democracy Now”) and signs in Thai (“We will die for Democracy”). There were stalls selling red shirts, anti-government literature and CDs, and of course Pad Thai.

I met a group of nurses and doctors volunteering at one of the many first aid stations along the protest route. They asked not to be identified since their hospitals told them not to help the Red Shirts. Nevertheless, they came anyways “to help the people, and because our hearts are Red.”

The Nation's State, another rally participant, is elated by the warm support of Bangkok residents

Notable were the crowds of people gathered on the streets cheering for the reds.

They were Bangkok residents coming out to great and support the reds. Many were waving anything red that they had in their homes or work. I saw red bed sheets and red coffee mugs among other things.

Also notable were the police which came out to wave and some even sported red.

The mood was boisterous, like a party really, and the reds certainly scored a psychological victory by showing residents that there are far more protesters than reported in the media.

Nganadeeleg criticizes media bias in reporting the rallies

I'm pleased that there has been no real violence to date, and it seems both the government and protesters have learned from the past.
(also more people have camera's at hand now so hopefully any actions by agent provocateur's will quickly be able to be seen as such).

My biggest complaint regarding the media coverage is that most are taking a very short term view and cannot see the wood for the trees.

Hungry guide to food and travel maintains a non-political blog but manages to write about the Red Shirts by featuring the exotic food items sold in the rally sites.

Going to rally is not fun for those who has nothing to do with it, but it created lots of jobs and profits for some people, especially people who sell food. Some of them just come specially for rally, and some who usually are nearby, simply change the location just to show their support.

Red Shirt march at Victory Monument. Photo by newley

Red Shirt march at Victory Monument. Photo by newley


Protest in front of Army complex. Photo by newley

Protest in front of Army complex. Photo by newley

Twitter reactions:

photo_journ: #redshirt trucks now playing protest/battle type tunes. Still attracting wide public support
photo_journ:If the reception the #redshirt convoy is getting is indicative of an election vote the Abhisit gov. is finished
RobinThailand: People on the street passing us food and water as we move down in the #redmarch.
newley: #redmarch protesters chanting, cheering, and throwing empty plastic water bottles into army compound.
legalnomads: @arzupancic No no – I didn't wear any red shirt. Was just there taking pictures – in green or purple or something neutral.
tulsathit: We've also learned that an unknown number of protesters headed for 11 regiment HQ and never came back. They simply went home.

The last tweet is good news for the government. It means the number of protesters are going down. BangkokDan believes the Red Shirts have failed

The so far biggest show of force on Sunday with many sightseers and curious onlookers on Rajdamnoen was a sweet Pyrrhic victory before reality set in on Monday morning when the dancing and chanting solidarity started marching. Many of them knowing, this march actually leads to nowhere. They barely reached the 11th Infantry Regiment, the ultimatum passed – now the search for blood started. And many protesters, already packed, simply went home.

Nirmal Ghosh is not sure whether the Red Shirts can sustain the protest momentum

The Red shirts have definitely made a statement today, but will it be enough to force political change? The government has played its cards well, not being drawn into a fight. Yet the grenade blasts show that the situation still hangs in the balance.

There is still no telling how many Red shirts can stay on the streets and for how long….

Many Red Shirts are supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra but not all of them are fans of the fugitive leader who was recently found guilty by the court of corruption charges. Thaksin is now in Europe but he has been successfully addressing the rallyists through phone-in interviews. Jon Russell cites the strong social media presence of Thaksin’s team

Thaksin’s strong social media presence on the web allows the public – including his supporters – to find information and opinions straight from him rather than reading through the media.

Social media gives Thaksin a free platform to air his opinions and views whilst allowing him to maintain contact with those who can longer see him in person. For his supporters, his social media presences allows them to stay close to his view and opinions which are accessible any time.

Rally photos are also available at Legal Nomads.

March 11: The Red Shirts are coming!
March 13: Calm before the storm?
March 15: “Reds” vow a bigger rally today

  • http://globalvoicesonline Andy Panda

    I believe the outcome of this mass red shirt protest will end badly with clashes from both sides resulting in numerous deaths and injuries just like in last year’s Songkran riots. There is speculation that some red shirt instigators are wearing fake police and army uniforms carrying weapons and bombs among the protest crowds. On Monday afternoon six M79 grenades were launched into a compound of the Royal Thai Army’s First Infantry Regiment on Vibhavadi Rangsit road injuring two soldiers. Stay tuned for further developments. “Long Live the King of Thailand!”

    • lee

      just add: last year protest was Taksin’s government against yellow shirt. (not this government) this government got majority vote. Clean & legitimate

  • http://www.legalnomads.blogspot.com Legal Nomads

    Thank you for linking to my photos, much appreciated!

  • Tom_Bkk

    The red shirts are ordinary people many of them experience genuine benefits from Thaksin’s policies such as reliable cheap health care, drug war, rural education opportunity and many more. They need no pay to join the protest. They had chosen the right government that has improve wealth and their standard of living to the right policies. Unfortunately, this has upset some powerful people because they feel threaten. So they decided Thaksin must be eliminated. That was when all the trouble started here in this country.

    • Doctor Who

      Oh really? I thought the trouble started earlier when Mr. T, despite having a parliamentary majority, dissolved the parliament and called snap elections rather than answer questions about his share dealings and conflicts of interest. “Let the people decide” he said. The people who didn’t have access to the information or the training to understand the complexities of the issues. Eventually the elections were declared null and void and the electoral commissioners jailed for acting in favor of Thai Rak Thai. Democracy Thaksin style!

    • lee

      why Thai people love Thaksin? He is corruption.
      & destroy his own country with the protest. maybe all of those people love themselves more than the country..just for the sake of small token from Thaksin.

  • Doctor Who

    I am not in Bangkok, but in the so-called Thaksin heartland of Chiang Mai. On the streets here there are a few red shirts to be sighted, but I have noticed more pink shirts – a quiet sign of loyalty to the King and opposition to the red shirts. Of course few here would be openly critical of red shirts for fear of the consequences. In April the red shirts had a much more visible show of stength, occupying the city hall, and blocking roads. This time round it does seem more muted. The rhetoric is no less strident though. I switched on the local red shirt radio station and heard their usual streams of venom. This time they were boasting that they would take their blood and pour it on the deputy PM. “Make him drink red shirt blood” – fiery stuff, but ultimately ridiculous.

  • People who

    To Doctor Who… there’s nothing going on between red shirts and the king!! Red shirts respect the king… every Thai people respects our King!!
    Do not bring our king down to your hell’s thought!!

  • People who

    Thai people loves King always!!
    Do not talk or bring our king down to this point!!
    If you are (doctor who) Thai, you should let our king stay in a peaceful place.
    Leave him alone!!

  • Ordinary Thai people

    “Thaksin ousted in 2006 military coup.”

    That is what I keep hearing and seeing in the news. So Thaksin must be a good guy, right?

    Well, there is another part that they forgot to say… On that day, ordinary Thai people were out on the streets giving hugs and flowers to soldiers. Both people and soldiers had a smile on their faces. Why? Because they all know they have just ended a corrupted government.

    You don’t need to believe me… just Google and see it for yourself.

  • Wish Master

    I hope Africans are watching, reading and learning about these protests that they may take a clue and also seek similar accountability among their leaders who rip the continent of its natural resources, wealth thereby creating mass unthinkable poverty.

  • PP

    We don’t want the bad corrupted,selfish and liar outed PM to control my country again.Now he tried made my country trouble because of his selfishness and never enough, never accepted the law.He is the tyranny dictator when he was the PM.He never cleaned himself.He controled everything with the money.Until now he never stop to destroy my country.He is the real one dictator and support the mob.Beware this man he is the one of the terrorists that used other countries base to destroy his homeland country.He still has a lot of cases in the court for the corruption by policy for supporting his own family business.He wants to be no guilty what he did for the country.We have the democracy now with the nice PM Aphisit we need the new age of democracy without the corruption PP in the parliament.

  • RR

    It is ridiculous when people say that somehow the protests and the movement is between the rural poor and urban rich, or between the people or the elite, democracy or dictatorship. It is in truth nothing of the sort, clear and simple its is conflict between one elite against the other, the people and democracy is just being taken on a ride. One side (the yellow) was deprived of power so they ousted Thaksin from power, now the reds want to do the same with Abhisit, because they wanted to return to power. To think that if Abhisit was overthrown and a red shirted government came back Thailand is suddenly going to have Democracy and la dee la everyone will happily forever and all the problems (societal, ethnic, economic) will go away is naive and stupid. The different movements need to stop and work for real democracy and not just trying to win power and hold power.

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