Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Protesters Dump Blood at Thai Government Site

Blood was spilled on Tuesday, the third day of mass demonstrations in Bangkok, but not in the way that many had feared.

Antigovernment protesters pooled their blood — drawn by medical workers in air-conditioned tents — to unleash a red tide at the gates of Government House, the office of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, and later at his party’s headquarters.

“We will curse them with our blood and our soul!” yelled a protest leader, Nattawut Saikua, to roaring approval from a crowd of several thousand people at Government House, including farmers, monks and vegetable sellers.

Their so-called Red Shirt protest movement remains resentful over the 2006 military coup that ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who championed rural and poorer voters. The movement accuses the current government of favoring the country’s wealthy elite, and has been angered by a series of court decisions in recent years banning political parties allied with Mr. Thaksin.

They want the government to call elections, and with the backing of vast rice-growing areas in the north and northeast of the country, they would have a good shot at winning. Mr. Abhisit, who has nearly two years left in his term, has repeatedly said he will not dissolve Parliament because he does not think it will resolve the political crisis set off by Mr. Thaksin’s ouster.

The Red Shirts continued to occupy the streets of the main government district in Bangkok on Tuesday, though their numbers appear to be down from the more than 100,000 people who crowded the streets on Sunday.

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