March 14th, 2010
04:49 PM ET

Thousands of anti-government protesters flood Thai capital

Tens of thousands of protesters poured into the center of Bangkok on Sunday, bringing the city to a virtual standstill in an effort to topple the Thailand government.

The anti-government demonstrations began Friday and were expected to reach their peak over the weekend as a Monday ultimatum - set by the "red shirt" opposition protesters - approached for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to leave office.

Protesters, without giving specifics, have warned that they will increase pressure if the ultimatum is not met. So far, the rallies have been largely peaceful.

The protesters are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a bloodless military coup in 2006. Thaksin was the only Thai prime minister to serve a full-term in office and remains hugely popular.

The protesters say that current Prime Minister Abhisit was not democratically elected and have demanded that he call new elections.

About 50,000 security forces were mobilized ahead of the protests and dditional soldiers were guarding Abhisit, who is at a safehouse at a military compound.

Since Thaksin's ouster, Thailand has endured widespread political unrest that has pitted Thaksin loyalists against Abhisit's supporters. Two people were killed and at least 135 wounded in riots in April 2009 when protesters clashed with demonstrators supporting the government.

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Filed under: Thailand • World
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Engpei I.

    The unrest with the Thai government is deeply rooted with the police and Military.
    Since no Royal Family has any clout or influence, Thailand will have much unrest until
    the working class and the practicality of a proper voice can be established.
    Passive behavior will not last long,

    March 14, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. guest

    And why, pray tell, should 99,9% of the student population be forced to witness these two smooching it up on the dance floor? They have rights too. The school made the correct decision.

    March 14, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shawn

    My fiance lives in the center of Bangkok. "red shirt", "yellow shirt", whatever, these people are thugs. I was in Thailand during October/November 2009 and left a park where yellow shirts were gathered about 10 minutes before somebody threw a pipe bomb into the crowd.

    These "demonstrations" have shut down the international airport, shut down the sky train and water ferries. Businesses have been blocked, and people have been killed. The government is going to have to crack down on these bands of criminals before it gets worse.

    March 14, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TP Thomas

    Taksin remains popular because he used government funds to buy votes. Can't blame the people that took his money, because they would not see any benefits otherwise.
    The Bangkok elite and military do not care for Taksin's CEO style of government. His perceived arrogance and attempts to emulate the Singapore model resulted in the birth of the "Yellow shirts" movement that led to the military coupe.
    Now the military is unhappy with the current government and its inability to accomplish anything significant. The current government has conceded some "pet projects" for the military (Gripen buys, weapons, etc.) in the hopes of keeping military support.

    What will happen next?
    1) If current government calls for new elections, they will be defeated.
    2) If current government does not dissolve parliament and call new elections, they will be paralyzed with a stain of illegitimacy and not be able to get anything done.
    3) If the Yellow shirts emerge, there will be bloodshed.

    Another military coupe (already in the plans) to settle things for a year and, discredit the red shirt movement, and engineer a new election....

    This will get interesting....

    March 14, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. parin

    we are red .red red red .we need democracy. Abhisit get out !

    March 14, 2010 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • pingpong

      I think there're many red shirts out there who didn't share the same interests, philosophy, and beliefs. Some red wants Thaksin, others want equality and democracy. I still unsure about what red had in common except the expression of human's suppressive instincts and Thais' "sanook" (fun). Therefore, even a civilzed populists' democracy is controversial and debatable, I posited that a requested democracy is similar to our pure oxegen which is toxicated. All those terms like freedom, democracy, equality are just a hoax for ones who wants to be looked and feel smart.

      May 22, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. Doc

    Thailand is one of the least stable "second world" countries. Thais overthrow their government as often as the World Cup finals, it seems, and it's usually done by the last group in power, or at least someone connected to the prior group.

    March 14, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ubear doyen

    far from "bringing the city to a virtual standstill" the protesters are easily avoided and life continues as its usual hectic pace. the sentiment for thaksin has waned as the protests have continued again this year.

    March 14, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Patrick Dennison

    As long as they protect their gay comminity, I am fine....

    March 14, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Thasinee

    Some stupid protect such man..

    March 14, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. PeacefulThai

    Mr.Thaksin Shinawatra was convicted of corruption, abusing his power for his own and his family interests. His assets are being seized due to illegally gained during in power. He claimed of popular vote when he was elected prime minister because of passing out the cash to rural Thai to vote for him. Most of the so called "Red Shirt" people that are protesting in Bangkok are being paid to come in and "as they claimed" that they will disturb normalcy Bangkok people so that the government headed by Mr.Abhisit Vejjajiva will dissolve his parliament. So Mr.Thaksin Shinawatra will come back or his cronies will be in the power again.
    If Mr.Thaksin Shinawatra is really for democracy as he and his cronies acclaimed, he and his cronies should not use protesting as the condition to have parliament dissolved. Because Mr.Thaksin Shinawatra wants to see bloodshed in Thailand. He does not care how many people will get hurt, who will die as long as he can come back and be in the power again.

    March 14, 2010 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Countryside

    Current Prime Minister Abhisit is very selfish,he does everything for himself and he doesn't want new elections because next time he can't be Prime Minister.No one choose him,including me.I've never chosen his party.He sucks!

    March 15, 2010 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
    • pingpong

      Thank you to your foreign husband for posting your countryside comment. You really enlighten me that we need to re-engineering our education system and reconsidering the local media esp. radio. I hope you were happy with the fire and the burning around Bangkok.

      May 22, 2010 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  12. Joe

    Thaksin is a megolamaniac, intent on dividing the great Thai nation. He paid for votes to get his party in power (without ever standing for public election himself). He gave choice jobs to his family and friends. He passed laws that benefitted his own companies to the detriment of others. Now he is funding the redshirt demonstrations so that he can worm his way back into the Thai political elite. The redshirts are merely pawns in his nasty little game. Abbisit, on the other hand. is at least publicly-elected politician who, if given the chance, could come through with many social changes. Little wonder that the vast majority of Thai people are fed up with the Redshirt masquerade.

    March 27, 2010 at 4:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mitch

    Red shirt, yellow shirt debate aside; these protests and the violence are doing nothing but harming the economic situation in Thailand. Thailand was poised to be in a strong position for recovery but now hope is waning. My wife's family has a business in Bangkok and they are in dire financial shape due to all the disruptions/closures. The Thai people need to realize that they are only hurting the global competitiveness of their country, no matter who or what they protest for.

    April 23, 2010 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  14. arnatlao

    thailand in truble now

    May 16, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  15. Marcos

    It's really such a pity to see that The Land of Smiles is undergoing such disturbances, accompanied by bloodshed and demises.

    It is a wonderful country whose beauty I still want to delight in person, but it renders me unmotivated to see how unorganized its society is 🙁

    May 24, 2010 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |