Red-shirts rally across Thailand marks 2006 coup

19:17, September 19, 2010      

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The three-day rally of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) or red-shirt movement to mark the 2006 coup and the fourth-month anniversary of 19 May bloodshed dispersal started early morning on Friday, September 17 with flower laying activity in front of Bangkok Remand prison in Bangkok.

Red-shirts across the country place red roses in front of prisons nationwide in a bid to express best wishes to and call for the release of 252 red-shirts including their leaders who have been detained in various prisons in the capital and other provinces.

Puea Thai list MP and a core leader of the UDD Jatuporn Prompan said on Friday that the red-shirts are going to continue the flower laying activity weekly at the prisons where their members are detained until they are freed.

Following the military crackdown on May 19 this year, red-shirt protesters and their leaders were arrested and put in jail for violating the emergency decree which were initially imposed in April in 24 provinces including Bangkok. Under the decree, the lawbreaker may face up to two year in prison and fine penalty up to 40,000 baht.

Led by Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, leader of the UDD's fraction June 24 Democracy Group, the UDD on Saturday morning, September 18 launched a convoy of 50 vehicles in a rally to the northern province of Chiangmai.

The vehicles were carrying placards demanding for the release of all red-shirt suspects being detained in prisons throughout the country. They will later join the red-shirt rally at the municipal sports stadium starting 12pm on Sunday.

Their rally on September 19 in Chiangmai will be highlighted by the presence of Thaksin's brother-in-law and ex-PM Somchai Wongsawat, some UDD's leaders and the opposition Puea Thai MPs, who will be giving speech from 7 p.m., Sunday.

However, phone-in schedule of some core leader of "red-shirt" group including Arisman Pongruangrong, who is now under arrest warrant for terrorism charge but on escaping was cancelled to avoid showing out their whereabouts, Somyos said on Sunday afternoon.

The red-shirts in Chiangmai, while waiting for the evening activities, launched a parade in the central city on Sunday afternoon amid close watch of the police.

There are many symbolic rallies by the red-shirts across the country.

In the capital city of Bangkok on Sunday early morning, some activist students and the UDD members gathered at Democracy Monument to place wreaths and read out their statement calling for democracy and responsibility for the dead who were killed during their latest rally from March to May.

They had dispersed peacefully before re-gathering at Rajprasong intersection in the central business district of Bangkok where they tied red ribbons along the street. Till noon time about two thousand red-shirts arrived at Rajprasong, where the protesters had used as their encampment for more than two months. More activities are expected to come later of the day including balloon releasing and candle lighting.

"We expected to draw 5,000 people by 5 p.m.," said Sombat Boonngamanong, founder of the Red Sunday, another branch of red- shirts movement. He said by 3.15 p.m. the group would start releasing 20,000 balloons and tying 100,000 red ribbons. By 7.19 p. m., they will light red candles to commemorate May 19 incident.

At the time being as the number of the red-shirts is increasing, traffic around Rajprasong area has started to congest. According to a local media, red-shirts scattered all around Rajprasong Intersection and it seemed the police was unable to control flow of protesters.

The authorities have deployed 3,000 police on Sunday, with about 1,800 at Ratchaprasong and another 1,200 manning over 100 check points in and around Bangkok.

Sombat and metropolitan police are currently worried over the increasing number of the protesters which has already paralysed the traffic around that area. Sombat said although he did not foresee the situation to develop violently but the headless crowd is difficult to control.

Albeit the prohibition of using amplifier during the emergency decree, the police allowed Sombat to use loudspeaker to motivate some people to stay at Patumwanalam temple nearby Rajprasong.

Sombat said they will disperse by 8 p.m. while the police warned that any forms of gatherings must not last longer than two hours as Bangkok remains under the emergency decree.

Source: Xinhua


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