Return of the Red Shirts

Yesterday, Thailand’s red-shirt protest movement held its first major demonstration in Bangkok since a government state of emergency was lifted in December and the largest since the chaos of last May, during which at least 90 people were killed. Aside from some thrown water bottles, the rally seems to have gone peacefully and may reflect ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images
NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images
NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images

Yesterday, Thailand's red-shirt protest movement held its first major demonstration in Bangkok since a government state of emergency was lifted in December and the largest since the chaos of last May, during which at least 90 people were killed. Aside from some thrown water bottles, the rally seems to have gone peacefully and may reflect a new strategy on the part of the red-shirt leaders:

Jatuporn Prompan, a Red Shirt leader who avoided arrest because he has parliamentary immunity, vowed to hold "frequent and symbolic gatherings" twice a month- a change from the large sit-in last year that lasted 10 weeks and prompted a violent crackdown.

"We have learned a lesson that big gatherings will not lead to the result we want," Jatuporn said.

Yesterday, Thailand’s red-shirt protest movement held its first major demonstration in Bangkok since a government state of emergency was lifted in December and the largest since the chaos of last May, during which at least 90 people were killed. Aside from some thrown water bottles, the rally seems to have gone peacefully and may reflect a new strategy on the part of the red-shirt leaders:

Jatuporn Prompan, a Red Shirt leader who avoided arrest because he has parliamentary immunity, vowed to hold "frequent and symbolic gatherings" twice a month- a change from the large sit-in last year that lasted 10 weeks and prompted a violent crackdown.

"We have learned a lesson that big gatherings will not lead to the result we want," Jatuporn said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajjiva announced a series of new social welfare programs to go along with an optimistic economic outlook for this year. The Red Shirts, for their part, seem to have moved beyond support of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra into a more broad-based political movement, though one that hasn’t always done the best job of articulating its political goals. In any case, yesterday’s events are being interpreted as a sign that despite the long state of emergency and the arrest of its senior leaders, the movement is far from spent. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.