While estimates are that over 100,000 protestors known as Red Shirts, supporters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), took to the streets in Bangkok over the March 13 weekend, those numbers have dropped significantly but remain in the thousands. The Red Shirts made a bloody showing, though not the violent kind one might expect: volunteers donated blood which was poured at the gates of the Government House, Democrat Party’s headquarters and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s home.
The protests have remained nonviolent although a few grenade attacks at military sites and a Molotov cocktail incident involving a tank are reminders that the situation is still not to be taken lightly.
Nevertheless throughout the events travelers have mingled among the protestors with their cameras chronicling the events on Twitter and Facebook. The biggest hassles so far have been traffic jams caused by marches in key areas of Bangkok. As the protestor numbers decline and frustration rises, some fear activities might get out of control. Thus far the UDD has been announcing its protest sites so it is actually quite easy to avoid the red crowds.
The beef of the Red Shirts is with the current government and in support of ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was ousted in the 2006 coup and convicted of corruption charges by Thailand’s Supreme Court, so foreign travelers haven’t been targeted or harassed. While this is a situation to keep an eye on, it is not a reason to cancel a trip to Thailand.
For updates on areas to avoid, a play by play narrative and some background on the politics, follow the Bangkok Post’s microsite on the subject or get on Twitter and check for #redshirt.