Friday, March 12, 2010

Bangkok: Mass protest march of Red Shirts

 UPDATE:  This post continues at  Red shirt protest in Bangkok of Saturday March 13

"Members of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), known as the Red Shirts, are scheduled to start a protest march in Bangkok, Thailand, on March 12," writes Palatino of GV, adding,   "Hundreds of thousands of Red Shirts are expected to assemble during the weekend march, which will culminate at Sanam Luang on 14 March. The protesters want Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve the Parliament."

A NY Times (h/t BP) article quotes Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an expert on Thailand at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapor, who explains why --however peaceful the march organizer's intentions -- it could easily spin out of control and become violent:
More unsettling, he said, is the possibility that other groups with other agendas might instigate violence.

If it turns nasty it might not be because of the reds,” he said. “Right now there are so many factions all over the place. Even within the reds and the yellows, so many factions. We don’t know who is allied to who. The whole situation creates a context in which a third, fourth, fifth hand can take advantage.”
Regular readers of ThereLive will recall Nostitz's amazing live-blog of the last major Red Shirts' protest  that broke out at the opening of the ASEAN summit in Pattaya on April 11, 2009.  Recall that Nostitz observed, firsthand -- in the midst of a struggle that was ostensibly red shirts Vs yellow shirts -- the sudden appearance of a yellow-allied "blue shirts" faction.   According to Nostitz's account, provocations by the blues may have contributed to the escalation of the confrontation between the reds and the government -- with tragic consequences.

Mong Palatino, Global Voices,  Thailand: The Red Shirts are coming! Thursday, March 11th, 2010 (map, text)  -- outstanding introduction to the protests.

Panrit (Gor),, via richardbarrow
  Richard Barrow - mobile twittering and blogging
Funny thing is, they did a thorough body search of us when we arrived but they just let in 3 #redshirt pickup trucks!
Metal detector and body search at entrance to rally site. 
I guess we are a bit early. Only about 200 #redshirt at the rally in Bang Phli. Not many police visible.
In the car on the way to the #redshirt rally in Bang Phli Samut Prakan. Not sure if I can park shirt rally in Samut Prakan this morning. There was an estimated 4-5,000 people there. The rally started at the City Hall area where the people listened to speeches. They then paid respect to the statue of King Rama V. I believe they were doing this for good luck as tomorrow they will be heading into Bangkok.
    One classic Western movie scene I saw was a mother running out from a shop house and shouting at her young child to get in quickly.
    Some promising twitter feeds
    MengBKK observed a few moments ago on Twitter that there are many "red within red groups" twittering -- an illustration of just how many groups are likely to be involved with the protest -- and the reaction to it.  MengBKK's examples include:

    To identify recently updated blog posts on the developments, the sidebar of Jot Asean lists the most recently updated Thailand and Southeast Asian blogs -- most recent posts at the top of the page.

    For a quick overview of the major confrontations between the anti-military "red" and pro-military "yellow" faction since the 2006 coup, ThereLive's Thailand archive is a convenient place to start.

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