The Red Shirts in Bangkok are often in the news calling on the government to put in place a better democratic society for all of its people but more so to help the plight of the poor. Who can blame them? We all want better living conditions.
According to some of the headlines in local English Newspapers in Bangkok, Red Shirts are forever "spilling blood" on the streets of the capital city in a protest to reunite ousted former prime ministers such as Thaksin Shinawatra back into office. The movement asked that the National Assembly be dissolved and that peaceful solutions are carried out so that all Thai people can benefit and live in harmony.
These demonstrators are primarily pro-democracy movements in which poor rural people have been deprived of basic amenities and have just cause for concern. Thaksin Shinawatra was sympathetic to the plight of the poor but fortunately or unfortunately, (depending on which views are best suited here) fled the country amidst allegations of misconduct due to an unethical business deal which resulted in the sale of his telecommunication company in neighbouring Singapore. Many members of the government were unhappy with the outcome.
Thousands of protesting demonstrators march through the streets of Bangkok towards the military camp, 20 kilometres north of the city. In cases like this, some government officials even move out for safety reasons. A number of helicopters are always on standby at the Government House in case an emergency evacuation is necessary for its other members. But in spite of everything, the general mood on the streets seem to take on a lively festival-like appearance as joyful cheering supporters, curious onlookers and tourists jostle for the best views. Some foreigners even take to the streets by joining in the protest.
It would seem the police take no chances in the city of Bangkok as many take to the streets to offer protection against possible damage to property and injury or abuse to its residents from the red-shirted demonstrators. The police in the photo below have set up a barricade outside a McDonald's on Silom Road. Please note that none of the police protection units there were carrying any real weapons other than their mobile phones in case there was an actual emergency.
Exactly why an establishment such as this needed protection is anyone's guess while other shops and buildings on the same street get no police protection. I am led to believe that even the police are sometimes uninformed, but simply go about their business without question. Perhaps they were not going to let any red shirts get their hands on a Big Mac. Many businesses are forced to close.
Warnings are usually issued to tourists to be especially careful during these difficult times but as is in many cases, these protests appear to be just another opportunity to celebrate one of the many festivities occurring throughout the country. Foreigners are often cautioned of impending unrest and possible violence in Thailand during the country's troubled internal political spells. Tourists are told to avoid going to Thailand on vacation, but quite frankly these demonstrations seldom last long, with little noticeable incidents whatsoever.
From personal experience, there's really no concern for alarm as these political uncertainties generally happen in an around Bangkok with most tourists unaware of trouble in other parts of the country. Pattaya and Phuket seldom experience any problems and it's always business as usual. You'll probably find worst case scenarios in other parts of the world and perhaps even in your own backyard.
In the past, there have been reports doing the rounds that Lumpini Park, a local recreational playground, stage potentially dangerous demonstrations but that never happened. Instead, a gathering of para-military police took center-stage where they were offered free massages for their aching feet by the red shirt lady brigade. This while their buddies relaxed under the shade of nearby trees.
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