The Red Shirts held their fundraising concert at Khao Yai on Saturday, November 15, preparing for their big push to oust the government. In contrast to other news sources, I would put the number of Red Shirts there at about 50,000 to 60,000. The atmosphere was generally very festive, relaxed and happy. There were very few political speeches on the stage, it was mostly Red Shirt leaders singing “plaeng look thung” songs, accompanied by elaborately dressed “hang kueang” (dancing groups). Many young people attended the concert as well. An emotionally very strong moment was when banned TRT executive committee member Adisorn Piangket sang songs about his time in the jungle with the Communist Party of Thailand, and broke into tears on the stage while singing about his younger brother who was killed in those turbulent times. Thaksin sung a song through a video link. Different to usual Red Shirt events, people did not leave after Thaksin’s appearance but stayed on. I left at midnight, to get enough sleep for the following day’s PAD event in Bangkok.
On Sunday, the PAD held a rally on Sanam Luang in Bangkok, showing loyalty to nation and monarchy. This event was attended by about 35,000 people, mostly dressed in colors with royal affiliation. The main tone of the rally was rousing patriotism. National flags dominated the visual scene. Retired General Preecha Iamsuphan gave a fanatical speech calling for a war against Cambodia. Both Thaksin and Hun Sen were attacked on the stage. The crowd was asked, for the foreign media, to recite in English: “We Love The King! We Love Thailand!” Often the foreign media was mentioned on the stage. The event would be seen all over the world.
When Sonthi Limthongkul came on the stage, he talked mostly about protecting the monarchy and how, if the PAD would not have fought for the monarchy last year, nothing might have been left over. In the middle of his speech suddenly a loud blast occurred, maybe 150 meters behind the stage. I saw a small column of smoke rising just opposite from Wat Pra Keow, and rushed to the scene. A few lightly injured people were there, and soon rescue workers arrived. One of the injured was a small boy, about 10 years old, with a puncture wound from shrapnel in his upper leg. Another was a PAD guard. I saw two more injured. Altogether 15 injured were reported. A small melee happened when enraged PAD protesters attacked a young man who was arrested, but was most likely not involved.
The rally closed about 10.30 in the evening, when the Royal anthem was sung while protesters held candles.[Click on the images for larger versions. Hover on images for captions.]