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Pitak Siam Rally Turns Violent in Thailand

The anti-government rally organized by Pitak Siam or “protect Thailand” network turned violent as protesters clashed with the police in Bangkok on November 24, 2012, Saturday. Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd which was trying to enter a restricted zone.

Saksith Saiyasombut of Siam Voices liveblogged the protest. He believes the rally ended late in the afternoon because it failed to gather enough warm bodies:

The Pitak Siam rally ended prematurely at 5.20pm, when the group leader General Boonlert Kaewprasit went on stage and called it off, stating not to risk any more lives and to conserve energy for future actions.

But what could have been the real reason for the complete cancellation is that there have not been simply enough people. The group has earlier stated to carry on when there are more than 50,000 anti-government protesters – a highly optimistic estimation that has fallen short during the afternoon, as the highest realistic estimation was about at 30,000 people, whereas police didn’t even more than 20,000.

Pitak Siam is calling for the ouster of the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. They accused the Yingluck government of corruption and of being disrespectful to the King.

Police stand over their riot shields behind razor-wire in front of Ananda Samakhom Palace. Photo by Geoff Costley, Copyright @Demotix (11/24/2012)

A protester holds a placard expressing devotion to the King of Thailand. Photo from @seacorro

As rain begins to fall, protesters take shelter near the statue of King Rama V at Royal Plaza. Photo by Geoff Costley. Copyright @Demotix. (11/24/2012)

The video below shows the clash between the police and protesters:

The hashtags #pitaksiam and #psiam were used to monitor the protest. Below are some reactions:

@bkkbase The reason the rally stopped is unimportant. It stopped. No bloodshed today. Thailand wins. #PSiam

@Aim_NT A protester is complaining why the rally was ended so easily while she put lots of effort in support. Makkawan #Psiam

@Ryn_writes I second this> RT @bkkbase: See. This is how democracy works. Give someone a voice. Let them speak. Let them go home. No ISA needed. #Psiam [ISA is Thailand’s Internal Security Act]

@PravitR I saw with my eyes that the second clashes at Misakawan intersection began after protesters insist on breaking police cordon. #Psiam

@freakingcat #pitaksiam protest will end in 30 minutes as Thai soap operas are starting on TV

@thanr I thought #pitaksiam forgot to stick in the word ‘democracy’ in their name, then oh… they are just asking for dictatorship. Fine then.

@fratticcioli Midday heat more effective than tear gas to calm down #pitaksiam protesters. We've got free food too.

The Red Shirts group, whose leaders are allied to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and brother of Yingluck, urged the people to reject the demands of Pitak Siam

The leadership urged Thai people to stand united behind Thailand’s democratically elected government and push forward with amending the constitution, achieving justice for the victims of 2010, and granting amnesty to political prisoners of all stripes

Just because the rally is officially over does not mean that the battle has ended. Let us not underestimate the anti-democratic forces in this country.

If you have concerns about corruption or anti-monarchist sentiments, you should go through the proper channels to raise them. That’s what the democratic system is for.

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