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1 Shirt, 2 Shirt…

Meanwhile in Bangkok, while Scott and I had been stuffing ourselves at the many expensive aristocratic eating houses of that fine city, the people of Thailand had poured onto the streets in one great prolonged protest. They called themselves the Red Shirts, I believe in no small part due to communist tendencies within their political doctrine, but more primarily because they all wear red shirts.

It is technically illegal for a foreigner to engage in Thai political activism when in Thailand, and though (as you may already have gathered, dear reader) Scott and I have not brought any shirts of red color wheeling with us, we did know some foreigners who had made the mistake of wearing one during a protest. The protest had been going on for weeks now, with red-shirted people pouring through the streets, jumping around in the back of pickup trucks, wearing cowboy hats, playing patriotic music, and generally causing a ruckus.

It is my understanding that the primary goal of the Red Shirts is to create enough havoc in the city to convince the government to invoke a rule within the constitution that calls for new elections, should a significant number of people request them. Most of them wish to do this at least in part to give an ousted Thai leader by the name of Thaksin Shinawatra another chance at re-election. Taksin had been ousted by a group of people, many of whom were wealthy Bangkok elites backing a group of military leaders to take over and re-organize the government. These fellows wore yellow shirts, and were, at least at the time of this writing, more notoriously violent than their red shirted equivalents, having done such things as shutting down the Bangkok airport for a few days, and deeply eroding many foreigners’ faith in Thailand as a safe place to travel. Well, looks like the Red Shirts are moving in that direction as well.

In addition to that, there is discontent in Thailand because of the great disparity in wealth and development between Bangkok and the surrounding countryside. Most of the Red Shirts are country folk who have come into the city to make their voices heard. Many of them are also being paid a decent wage to do so by Thaksin and his organizations.

I’m not sure what it’s like to be in Bangkok these days, but while AsiaWheeling was there, it was not scary at all. The Red Shirts were so friendly to us, and appeared to be simply holding a large party in the streets, plastering Bangkok with many signs preaching their non-violent approach. As of late the threat of violence has been increasing. We can’t pretend to even begin to understand the complicated snarl that is Thai politics, so let it be said that the simple wish of this publication is for the peaceful operation of democracy in Thailand.


Comments

  1. Dane | April 26th, 2010 | 10:38 am

    same location, a few weeks later, last Thursday:
    http://vimeo.com/11185917

    Though Todd and Agnes were present and working, neither were injured

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