Thailand is bracing for a major ‘red shirt’ rally in the capital Bangkok on Sunday, as a commission says dialogue is the best path towards national reconciliation.
Bangkok will see red again this weekend, with a red shirt demonstration expected to attract tens of thousands of protesters.
Red shirt leaders say their protest on Sunday has two purposes. One is to commemorate the end of the absolute monarchy in Thailand 80 years ago, and the other is to show their opposition towards any intervention in the democratic process.
The ‘red shirts’ – many of them supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra – want the powerful military and the pro-establishment judiciary to stop being involved in politics.
Thida Thavornseth, Chairperson of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, said: “Right now there is a crisis of power which comes from fighting between two poles – people who love democracy and the elite. The fighting is continuing and intensifying.”
In contrast, Thailand’s Truth for Reconciliation Commission says the political climate, which turned violent in 2010, is now more stable.
Kanit na Nakorn, Chairman of the Truth For Reconciliation Commission Of Thailand, said:
“The public has been informed of our findings. We want people to learn from them, so that future incidents can be prevented. In the past, findings were put on the shelf and never implemented.”
But for people joining the protests, the Committee’s recommendation for a series of dialogues may not make much of a difference.
One woman said: “We want democracy. At the moment, we are bullied in many ways and do not know who we can rely on. An institution that we hoped we could rely on has become partial.”
One man added: “I agree with the notion that there is no democracy in Thailand. I, as a red shirt, don’t feel like I live in a democracy. Power does not truly come from the people.”