KHON KAEN, THAILAND – Over 5,000 Red Shirt supporters from across the Northeast flocked to the provincial capital this Saturday night to raise money for the families of Red Shirts who were imprisoned, wounded or killed as a result of the May 2010 unrest.

On the nine month anniversary of the May 19 crackdown, a local radio station, Isaan Update, organized the event and local politicians showed their support. However, it was villagers from throughout the region who donated the majority of the funds. Khon Kaen provincial representative Jarun Buarok said that their efforts had generated over 400,000 Baht.

The evening’s guest of honor, former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, told reporters that he had come to Khon Kaen to “support people who have supported our fight for democracy and who have suffered under unjust laws.”

The 2,000 Baht per table banquet coincided with a Bangkok protest demanding that the government release detained Red Shirts. For its part, Khon Kaen’s rally will help finance imprisoned protesters still trying to make bail.

“We’ve sponsored a table for justice,” Papai Thongjan said while watching one of the evening’s dance performances on stage. She had traveled into the city with her friends and neighbors from their rice farms in nearby Ban Khaw. “I just feel proud of coming together and helping out our fellow Red Shirts.”

[Garret Mahoney writes for a soon-to-be-launched blog called The Isaan Record. Additional reporting by Jamie Martina. Photo by Lyric Rafn-Stoffer.]