Thailand's Red Shirts mark coup anniversary

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
September 20, 2010 02:49

BANGKOK — Thousands of anti-government "Red Shirt" protesters defied a state of emergency in Thailand's capital to stage their first major demonstration since their street protests were ended by a deadly military crackdown in May.

The activities Sunday marked the fourth anniversary of a 2006 military coup that toppled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The Red Shirts include many Thaksin supporters as well as activists opposed to the military's interference in politics.

Thousands of people gathered Sunday at Bangkok's Rajprasong intersection, a glitzy shopping district that was occupied by the group from April to May. The crowd, exuberant but peaceful, spilled into the street and snarled traffic, while hundreds of police stood by in case of trouble.

"This showed that a large number of Red Shirt people, despite the emergency decree being in effect, are still passionate and want to express their feelings," said Sombat Boonngamanong, a Red Shirt organizer.

The Red Shirt protests earlier this year, which demanded that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva call early elections, deteriorated into violence that turned many parts of Bangkok into a virtual war zone. About 90 people were killed, mostly demonstrators.


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