This past week the Red Shirts protested for 3 days at Government House. There is not much I can write about other than what did not happen. There was no violence apart from the incident in which one soldier was beaten up trying to infiltrate the protest site. Just like the Red Shirts announced from the beginning there was no occupation of Government House. It was all orderly.
On 24 February 2009 a crowd of maybe 15,000 protesters gathered at Sanam Luang, and proceeded to Government House. They were no blockades until they reached the compound. The government did not intend to let the Red Shirts surround the compound, and built a barricade with concrete slabs, a fence, heavy earth moving equipment and police lorries. The Red Shirts, though, soon removed the obstacles, reached the main gate of Government House, proceeded to surround the compound, pushed a few police lines out of the way, and settled. By that night a stage was set up and many Red Shirts arrived after work to listen to the speeches. The crowd was made up of many upcountry folks, but, increasingly, urban middle class types as well. For the next two days, the protest followed the same pattern: in the blistering heat of the day there were only small crowds, and in the cool of the evening there were thousands and thousands of people.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s access was not hindered on the morning of 25 February or later that same day when he greeted the ASEAN Defence Minsters (he is waiting for them in the first picture).
The police and protesters coexisted peacefully. What follows is a selection of pictures to give New Mandala readers a feel for what went on.