Thai `Red Shirts` stage mass rally

Thousands of Thailand`s anti-govt "Red Shirts" joined a mass rally in the latest large demonstration by the movmt in recent weeks.

Updated: Oct 17, 2010, 20:15 PM IST

Thailand: Thousands of Thailand`s anti-government "Red Shirts" on Sunday joined a mass rally in the latest large demonstration by the movement in recent weeks.

Police estimated 3,000 people had joined the gathering in the football stadium in the town of Ayutthaya about one hour`s drive north of Bangkok. Over 1,000 police were deployed to provide security for the event but authorities said the mood remained calm.

"The situation so far is normal, there is no sign of any trouble," said police Colonel Sombat Choochaiya. Reds from Bangkok and other regions in the kingdom
began proceedings by tying red ribbons on to a bridge in the centre of the town.

The rally is expected to go on late into the evening and include speeches by opposition Puae Thai party members and a firework display. A similar Reds gathering in Bangkok on September 19 saw an estimated 6,000 people join a rally to mark four years since a coup ousted their hero Thaksin Shinawatra as premier and commemorate those slain in a May crackdown on movement`s protests in the capital.

Last Sunday another 6,000 people rallied in Bangkok to mark six months since a night of bloody clashes with the military, which left 25 people dead. Mass demonstrations by the Red Shirts in the heart of Bangkok in April and May descended into violence that left 91
people dead -- mainly civilians -- in fighting between demonstrators and armed soldiers.
The mainly poor and working class Reds accuse the current government of being elitist and undemocratic and want immediate elections. Bangkok and three surrounding provinces -- but not Ayutthaya - remain under a state of emergency, which gives
the authorities broad security powers.

Bureau Report