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Red shirts call for release of detainees

Posted by arnon_k On October - 11 - 2010

Motor rally marks clash anniversary

Red shirt demonstrators have used a motor rally around Bangkok to call for the release of almost 300 protesters who have been arrested and detained under the emergency decree over the past six months.

About 1,000 red shirt members yesterday joined the rally to remember the April 10 clashes six months ago between red shirt demonstrators and government forces at Khok Wua intersection. Twenty-six people were killed and over 800 were injured in the clash.

Police arrested red shirt supporters on April 10 and many more in rioting on May 19 when the red shirt rally in Bangkok was brought to an end.

They were charged with breaching the emergency decree and with terrorism, said Chaiwat Trakarnratsanti, coordinator of the Progressive Democracy Group (PDG), which organised yesterday’s rally.

“We want the government to release all red shirt detainees immediately because they are not terrorists,” Mr Chaiwat said.

“They are innocent civilians who just wanted to express their political stance.”

The red shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship set up camp in Bangkok’s streets from March 12 to May 19 to demand that the Abhisit Vejjajiva government dissolve the House and call a general election.

The protest turned violent a second time after government forces reclaimed the main demonstration site in the Ratchaprasong area on May 19, bringing an end to the 67-day rally.

Clashes over the period claimed 92 lives and left 1,400 people injured.

The red shirts have been gathering every Sunday in Bangkok and other provinces since to commemorate the clashes.

A woman in her 40s who supports the red shirts said yesterday she and her friends joined the weekly gatherings because the government was treating red shirt supporters unfairly.

State agencies have closed red shirt websites for alleged violations of the Computer Crime Act, she said.

The PDG, an alliance of businessmen and academics, said about 300 red shirt supporters were being held in prisons nationwide.

The group said it would organise activities and gatherings to demand justice for families of the red shirt victims and to call for the release of all red shirt detainees.

Hundreds of uniformed and plain-clothed police were deployed at the rally sites yesterday.

The red shirts gathered at Lumpini Park in the morning to make merit for those who died in the April-May clashes.

They later moved to nearby Ratchaprasong intersection, where the motor rally was launched.

The motor procession moved from Ratchaprasong to Pratunam, Din Daeng, the Victory Monument, Phetchaburi intersection, Phan Fa Bridge on Ratchadamnoen Avenue and finished at Khok Wua intersection.

Red shirt supporters lighted red candles and released lanterns into the sky to mourn those who died.

Traffic lanes around the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue were blocked for about an hour amid tight security.

Large crowds turned out.

Sombat Boonngarm-anong, another red shirt leader who organised the candle ceremony, demanded Prime Minister Abhisit apologise to relatives of red shirts who lost loved ones in the clashes.

“People must be held responsible for the violence,” Mr Sombat said.

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