“Red Shirt” anti-government protesters showed up by the thousands in Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok on Sunday. Despite a long-term state of emergency being declared in the capital, no violence was reported.
Sunday’s demonstration was the first major Red Shirt protest in four months. The last one they held in April and May of this year ended in a bloody confrontation with police. More than 90 died, mostly demonstrators. Dozens of buildings were burned, and Red Shirt leaders were detained.
Hundreds of police stood by and watched the protesters in yesterday’s demonstration, but none intervened. The Red Shirts, marching through the same streets where the protest four months ago was violently stopped, shouted “People died here” and “Abhisit, get out,” referring to Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
The Red Shirt protesters are demanding democracy and a general election. Many, but not all, are supporters of the former Prime Minister Thaskin Shinawatra, who is currently living in exile to avoid charges of corruption from the present regime. He was overthrown in a military coop in 2006, 5 weeks before elections were scheduled to be held.
The protesters are also calling for the reinstatement of the 1997 constitution, which was replaced in 2007 with a constitution written by the military.
The government calls the Red Shirts a terrorist organization. Anti-Thaskin and Abhisit supporters, commonly known as Yellow Shirts, say they want democracy and allege that Thaskin was corrupt and had to be removed.