In an update to last week’s post, our Bangkok correspondent H. Numan has the latest on the demonstrations in Thailand.
by H. Numan
Last Friday, I unexpectedly met a demonstration, near the Erawan Shrine. It was well organized and well managed. A group of motorcycles carrying red flags (nothing to do with communism) were going to the Royal Thai Police headquarters. Saturday there were big demonstrations, but not as many people as had been expected. Sunday there were even fewer. Monday some people tried to liven up the demonstration by shooting M79 grenades into a military installation. Two soldiers were hurt, but not killed.
The demonstrations of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) are slowly fizzling out. None of their goals have been met, not even close. The UDD, better known as the Red Shirts, vowed to get a million men on the move in Bangkok. Opinions vary, but the estimate is that about 60,000 to 90,000 people were mobilized. Today the figures are much lower; people are going home already.
But the leader of the UDD is playing his last and I think most desperate card: he has vowed to collect a million milliliters of blood (about 1,000 liters), to be sprinkled or splashed at the entrance of Government House. It is highly unlikely the UDD will meet that goal, as no more than 20.000 volunteers will donate some blood. Each participant would have to donate about 10cc of blood.
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“According to astrologer Chatchaval Paosawat, the splashing of blood is a Khmer black magic ritual and could be a ploy for the UDD to curse the government. Many of their followers are from the superstitious Northeast,” writes the Bangkok Post.
Not only the Northeast is superstitious; all Thais are. This will be seen as a real and dangerous cursing of the government. Even Thaksin doesn’t want his people to go that far. He asked them to rethink it. The government hasn’t budged. The prime minister is doing his work as normal, and will not be bullied by a mob.
It seems that slowly but surely the protest is fizzling out. Maybe the UDD will continue with the blood ceremony, but they ran out of steam already. I expect that before the weekend begins, everything will be back to normal.
This was Bangkok reporting,