Tuesday, December 30, 2008

UDD demonstration of red shirts at Sunam Luang in Bangkok

As about 50,000 Thais dressed in red shirts gathered for an anti-government rally at Bangkok's Sunam Luang, the question on everyone's mind was whether this group would imitate the tactics of the yellow shirts -- and if so to what effect? Not a month had passed since the anti-government PAD group had shut down Bangkok's airports. Police and the army declined to step in.

At the end of three days' protest, having taken hundreds of photos and interviewed dozens of red-shirt protesters the German bloggers at Free Thai commented:
. . . . only a few slight injuries, (as with any large event) reported, it seems that the number of victims and the severity of injuries is significantly below what one might expect from spending one evening at a Bavarian beer garden.

. . . the demonstrators from the beginning had made clear their renunciation of violence, and, as far as we can judge today, have kept their commitments.
This was a lesson in non-violent resistance.

Nevertheless, during these three days, a massive military presence was visible -- one that had been bitterly missing during the demonstrations of the yellow-shirt PAD demonstrations.

Nick Nostitz, who had previously live-blogged a violent confrontation between the Yellow shirts and the police, found himself in a position to compare protests. Nick summed up the contrast:
It was a welcome change to be walking away from a street protest without a feeling of disgust and sadness. . .

We know about the potential for violence in any street protest group, including the Red Shirts. Yet this protest was very carefully controlled by the Red Shirt leadership. Violent incidents were the absolute exception, and were immediately stopped by the leadership who were constantly at the frontline. The rhethoric on the stages was a careful balance of edging people on, humour and constant reminders to stay within the confines of the law. At night, Red Shirt leaders took turns singing songs on the stage. The protesters sang along and danced.

Der Weg zur Wahl - Der Beginn, FreeThai/ The road to the election - the beginning (English translation) , 28 Dec, FreeThai (text, 50 photos)
Nick Nostitz, Red shirts and civil disobedience, New Mandala (text, 14 photos)

Jim Taylor, The red army at the gates of parliament, New Mandala (8 photos)

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