Here is a first-hand account of the new phase of anti-government protests in Thailand, written by anthropologist Jim Taylor of the University of Adelaide.
The pro-Democracy Red Army or Nor Por Chor (aka People’s Alliance Against Dictatorship) gathered over the past two days starting at a mass rally at Sanam Laung on 28 December with an estimated 40-50,000 people and at the main entrances to Parliament- though making sure there was a passageway clear for politicians. Abhisit, a friend of PAD (he was seen walking among the PAD protesters at Government House and giving them words of encouragement) and a proxy of the army, along with his illicitly emplaced government, many like Newin highly paid for their new loyalty, had its mandatory policy statement at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs down the road from Parliament. This was against the law- as this should have been declared in Parliament – but then the law as we have seen over the past few years can be made on the run to suit particular interests.
Demonstrators from all walks of life including a few buses from the north and the northeast reserved a special vocal resentment for Kasit. The many villagers that I talked to expressed openly a bitter disappointment and profound sadness in what they see as the biased political leanings of the highest order in society. Most traditional Red supporters in the street were too fearful according to many informants to turn up at Parliament given the media warnings of police and army intervention. Reds were also, in the main, clearly pro-Thaksin and considered the democratisation processes started by him including the empowerment of villagers in the late 1990s to have been irreversibly damaged by the turn of events in late 2006 and the fascist-inclined politics coming out of the so-called “Democrat” Party and its traditional elite supporters. Anti-Thaksin media run by Sondhi Lim and his mates especially the Manager and the English-language print media continues to give out false media and consistently lampoon Thaksin along lines of the Nazi campaign to discredit the Jews in the 1930s.
But, the Red campaign, as many rally goers told me, is much more than simply Thaksin now. The question is one of Thai democracy. Rural voters are no longer ignorant of what they can expect and should expect in resource allocation and political participation since Thaksin’s time and grasp well (even better than many Thai academics) the concepts of true democracy and social equity.