Red Shirts plan mass weekend rally

October 15, 2010 12:00 am

, BANGKOK, Oct 15 – Thailand\’s "Red Shirt" anti-government movement said Friday it expected thousands of supporters to join a mass rally outside Bangkok this weekend, with authorities planning tight security.

The gathering in Ayutthaya on Sunday could be even bigger than one on September 19 in the capital, said co-organiser Somyot Pruksakasemsuk.

Police estimated that about 6,000 people attended that rally, which marked four years since a coup ousted their hero Thaksin Shinawatra as premier and commemorated those slain in a May crackdown on the Reds\’ Bangkok protests.

Thai authorities said the Red Shirts would be allowed to gather on Sunday provided their activities were within the law.

"If they come and do not break the laws and protest for a short period of time to express their opinion, they can do that," army chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha told reporters.

"If the protest turns violent, the leader of the protests must be responsible under the law," he said. "I\’m asking the protesters to rally under the law and not disturb other people\’s freedom."

Mass rallies by the Red Shirts in the heart of Bangkok in April and May left 91 people dead — mainly civilians — in clashes between demonstrators and armed soldiers.

The mainly poor and working class Reds accuse the current government of being elitist and undemocratic and want immediate elections.

Bangkok and three surrounding provinces — but not Ayutthaya — remain under a state of emergency, which gives the authorities broad security powers.


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