Thousands of Thai `Red Shirts` rally in Bangkok

Thousands of Thai "Red Shirts" gathered in Bangkok to mark nine months since a bloody crackdown on their anti-government rally.

Last Updated: Feb 19, 2011, 19:02 PM IST

Bangkok: Thousands of Thai "Red Shirts"
gathered in Bangkok on Saturday to mark nine months since a bloody
crackdown on their anti-government rally and to press for the
release of detained leaders.

Police estimated around 25,000 protesters massed in
the city as part of a rally that crossed from Bangkok`s retail
heart to Democracy Monument, both sites of bloodshed during
last year`s April and May demonstration.

Dressed in their trademark colour and waving banners,
flags and plastic clappers, the crowd cheered loudly as the
movement`s key figures spoke to protesters.

"We came today to ask for justice for our people who
died exactly nine months ago at this place," said Thida
Thavornseth, leader of Red Shirt movement.

"They died for our fight we will ask for justice for
them from those who do not show either political
responsibility or legal responsibility," she said.

More than 90 died and nearly 1,900 were injured in
clashes between protesters and the army during the two-month
rallies in 2010 calling for immediate elections.

Thailand`s political landscape has remained fractured
since the unrest.

The mainly rural, working class Reds are broadly
loyal to fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was
ousted in a military coup in 2006 and lives overseas to avoid
a jail sentence for corruption imposed in absentia.

They view Thailand`s current government as
undemocratic because it came to power in 2008 in a
parliamentary vote with the backing of the army after a court
ruling threw out the previous administration.

This week Thailand`s deputy prime minister suggested
elections would be called by June.

Many key Red Shirt leaders remain in prison on
terrorism charges and the protest movement has held a series
of peaceful one-day rallies in the capital in recent weeks
demanding their release.

Their arch-rivals -- "Yellow Shirt" nationalist
activists who claim allegiance to the throne -- have been
rallying near Government House recently in protest at
Abhisit`s handling of a deadly border dispute with Cambodia.