Thailand’s red shirt political movement held another major rally in Bangkok at the weekend. A crowd estimated at between 30-50,000 gathered at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of last year’s protest which began on March 12 2010 and ended amidst violence two months later on May 19. During the prolonged protests in the Thai capital last year, more than 90 people were killed and hundreds were injured. Subsequent rallies held by the red shirts have been peaceful and mainly restricted to one-day protests. Following the violence in Bangkok last year, a number of red shirt leaders were arrested and charged with various offences including terrorism. At the end of last month, many of those same leaders were released on bail on the condition that they did not incite unrest or leave the country and many of them were in attendance at Saturday’s rally.
All sides involved in Thai politics are now gearing up for the forthcoming general election which is expected to take place before the end of June. Former Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra addressed the rally via video-link and said he would return to Thailand if the pro-red shirt Pheu Thai Party won a landslide election victory. Local political analysts are divided on who will win the election although a number are suggesting that a landslide victory for any party is doubtful with another coalition government thought to be the most likely outcome. However, Thai politics has proved in the past that almost anything is possible particularly with the continuing political role played by the army and other high institutions in Thailand.