Red, Yellow Blur in Thailand
Image Credit: Flickr / Null0

Red, Yellow Blur in Thailand

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The Red Shirts’ campaign to force the resignation of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva got as bloody as it could last month—what could be bloodier than protesters donating 1000 litres of their own blood to splatter on government offices?

The protests, by the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship, established protest camps in the streets of Bangkok from March through May, with the protestors at one point gathering more than 100,000 people in the streets, paralyzing the tourist and business centres of the city.

The government eventually ordered a crackdown that resulted in the worst political violence in the country in about two decades, with more than 50 people dead and dozens of buildings set ablaze by fleeing protestors.

If the intention of the Red Shirts was to grab global attention, then they certainly succeeded—the world watched as the Abhisit government teetered on the verge of collapse as images of Bangkok ablaze were beamed around the globe. The defiance of the Red Shirts earned them the reputation of provocateurs.

But is this fair? After all, the Red Shirts aren’t the original Bangkok protesters—that title goes to the Yellow Shirts. To better understand the tactics of the Red Shirts, it’s essential to understand the Yellows. In fact doing so gives a glimpse of how much, in some ways, the two warring groups in this divided country actually have in common.

The ‘Yellow’ People’s Alliance for Democracy led anti-corruption protests in 2005 and 2006 that triggered a coup that resulted in the ousting of the government of Thaksin Shinawatra. Believing that the government that replaced Thaksin was still influenced by the deposed leader, the Yellow Shirts mounted an aggressive protest campaign in 2008, quietly stopping their protests when Abhisit was made prime minister.

How did the Yellow Shirts do it? In August 2008, thousands of Yellow Shirt protesters occupied Thailand’s Government House, remaining in the government complex until September. The group was also able to disrupt railway operations and three domestic airports including Phuket airport, a major tourist gateway.

The group upped the ante in November by pushing for a ‘final battle’ to remove the elected government and attacked several physical symbols of power, such as the parliament building and the homes of Cabinet ministers, before storming Bangkok’s two major airports. The Yellow Shirts controlled the airports for 8 days, disrupting the tourism that is the lifeline of the Thai economy and stranding more than 300,000 passengers in the process. They agreed to end their protests in December of that year when a court order disqualified allies of Thaksin from running for public office again.

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5

[...] But on Sunday she joined her cousin, aunt and about 1,000 other anti-government protestors marching from the plush Central World shopping mall, past the even plusher Paragon mall and on to the Bangkok Art and Culture Center where they stood behind a cordon of a dozen riot police. Many donned white Guy Fawkes masks, the most recent addition to Thailand’s color-coded political spectrum. [...]

[...] But on Sunday she joined her cousin, aunt and about 1,000 other anti-government protestors marching from the plush Central World shopping mall, past the even plusher Paragon mall and on to the Bangkok Art and Culture Center where they stood behind a cordon of a dozen riot police. Many donned white Guy Fawkes masks, the most recent addition to Thailand’s color-coded political spectrum. [...]

FirstAdvisor
June 21, 2010 at 03:57

To the best of my knowledge, the world doesn’t care about any unrest or conflict in Thailand. The country has very little to sell that’s worth buying, and the nation’s best claim to fame is its squealing, giggling hordes of very eager and very cheap prostitutes. Realistically, the sex tourism industry is the major item holding the Thailand economy back from bankruptcy. The political disputes of Thailand are extremely boring and tedious, so simplistic, dimwitted, passive-aggressive and slow-paced that they put outsiders to sleep with their mundanity. Probably no other nation in the world has such dull disagreements in internal politics as Thailand. In simple realpolitick, the people who have the support of the military are the people who win in any dispute, and that appears to be a practical fact the protesting farmers just don’t understand.

David Brown
June 18, 2010 at 11:13

The government can listen to everyone.

But unfortunately they cannot actually do anything unless their amart/military bosses agree. Reconciliation means bowing down and agreeing to the amart/military and its Abhisit and Sutheps job to make that happen otherwise they will be replaced by someone that will.

Meanwhile the reds are flexible, they want to introduce democracy where the government can only rule for 3 or 4 years and then has to go to the people to either be allowed another term or be replaced. The amart/military don’t understand democracy they just want to rule forever. Tradition or progress, which way do the Thai people want to go?

David Brown
June 18, 2010 at 11:10

The military did not attack the Yellows and there was a witchhunt when the police tried to move them.

The Yellows drove on a truck to Don Mueng and shot at taxi staff while ordinary citizens hid in fear, the Yellows killed some reds and their own people, bodies left at the airports.

The reds drove around the city peacefully and were cheered.

The military deployed snipers but the reds resisted when the military attacked the first time, then the military deployed snipers again, forced police to move in front of them, some rogue military engaged while the reds resisted the second attack as much as they could.

The police and the military fought each other at SalaDaeng(?) police station, the reds leadership surrendered and asked their supporters to go home peacefully. Some agents provocateurs were paid by the owners to secure insurance money for rebuilding some aging department stores

Now the military, village scouts, BPP, all the traditional royalist actors are spread around the country spreading terror amongst the citizens, with no accountability.

“Normalcy” Thailand?

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