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Sanam Luang becomes a hive of anti-government protests

Posted by Rattana_S On July - 7 - 2013

Protesters who have been occupying Sanam Luang for almost two months comprise of many different groups, all with one goal – to topple the government.

However, they are not clear on when, or if they will ever achieve that goal. There is also no agreement on who should replace the Pheu Thai Party and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, if that day finally comes.

These same Sanam Luang protesters were at the middle of a controversy recently when they were accused of attempting to “snatch away” a large group of fellow

protesters from the anti-government white-mask movement.

Wearing white Guy Fawkes masks and supporting followers through their Facebook page “V for Thailand”, the so-called leaders of the white-mask protesters cancelled their weekly anti-government rally scheduled at CentralWorld. However, other white-mask supporters were upset at the decision and said the movement was a leaderless operation. They decided instead to resume their Sunday rallies at a new venue in Lumpini Park.

“We are not planning to become the longest rally supporters in Thailand, but as of today we don’t know for how much longer we will be gathering at this site,” said Thai Patriotic Front leader, Chaiwat Sinsuwong, who used to join the rallies of the anti-Thaksin People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

The rallies first started in March with Chaiwat’s group gathering in Si Sa Ket to protest the role of the International Court of Justice in the Preah Vihear territorial dispute between Thailand and Cambodia.

In May, the group moved their protests to Sanam Luang and joined the anti-government Thai Patriotic Front, the Palang Thammatippatai and farmers’ groups protesting the rice-pledging scheme.

About a dozen Santi Asoke members also joined the Thai Patriotic Front’s supporters.

At midday silence pervades over Sanam Luang as protestors sleep in their tents. There are two distinct camps – the Thai Patriotic Front and the protesting farmers.

A woman called Chan, who said she was from Bangkok Chan, claimed she attended the daily rallies. She was a supporter of PAD, and said she was demanding that the Pheu Thai government resign. However, when asked who deserved to be the next prime minister she was unable to say.

Palang Thammatippatai protesters as Sanam Luang have also been attracting attention with their communist-style workers’ uniforms – a leftover from the 1960s.

Yod Jirapha a member of the group said he was a real communist supporter, and had joined the rally to call on the government to turn power over to the people.

Yod said the uniforms and caps with red stars – similar to the ones warn by Thai communist of the ’60s – were provided to the group, but he declined to name the benefactor. Before he could provide any more details to this Nation reporter, Yod was taken away by security officers.

The various groups have also set up a zone with open air showers, but, toilet facilities are provided by Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).

They have no problem when it comes to food – there are a number of separate eating areas with one main “central kitchen” which welcomes everyone with free meals throughout the day. Another kitchen is used to distribute food to protesters throughout the camp.

A man who identified himself as Kitti, but declined to give his last name, said he had brought his “Kitti Paitul Kitchen” to support the protesters. Kitti said he was also a PAD supporter, but then joined a number of Chaiwat rallies protesting against corruption in the Yingluck government. His kitchen, he said, provided supporters with two meals a day – popular dishes were green curry, red curry and omelette with rice.

There is also a hair salon for female protestors at the Sanam Luang site. Boonjeur Madee, the owner, said she was a member of Santi Asoke.

She said she wanted to help people in the camp because they had already sacrificed a lot by joining the rallies at Sanam Luang. She said she had also brought her beauty accessories so that she could pass the time by training those who were interested in learning. Moreover, she cut protestors’ hair for free. Each day, she said dozens of people came to get their hair cut at her salon.

Unlike other street protests in Bangkok in the past few years, this rally does not have an open-air market and there are no T-shirts selling, or souvenirs related to the rally.

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