Thousands of Thai protesters surrounded the government compound in Bangkok lst Wednesday as others demonstrated outside the foreign ministry.
Reports from the Thai capital say the street campaign was aimed at embarrassing the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva ahead of a summit of 10 Southeast Asian leaders that began Friday.
Organizers of the protest have stated that the protestors will not try to occupy Government House nor disrupt the ASEAN summit.
About 20,000 of Mr. Thaksin's supporters surrounded Government House Tuesday, but the numbers were lower early Wednesday, allowing Prime Minister Abhisit to enter the government compound Wednesday without incident.
An anonymous ‘Red-shirt’ said when interviewed: We don't see this government as legitimate. We want to see the PAD put through due process of law [for the airport seizures]."
They are demanding the government bring leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to trial, force Foreign Minister Kasit to resign, amend the 2007 constitution and dissolve parliament. They claim the new government undermines their democratic rights.
Kasit was one of the leaders of last year's massive protests by supporters of the anti-Thaksin People's Alliance for Democracy which brought Mr. Abhisit to power.
The pro-Thaksin red-shirted movement has taken on a more nuanced political orientation over the span of its existence and now stresses its concern over the violation of democratic procedures of governance, challenging the prevailing belief that all ‘red-shirts’ only support the person of the former premier.
The view that the red-shirts were all about Thaksin was "outdated", a ‘red-shirt’ told The Nation in an interview. "Even if Thaksin was dead and gone the struggle would continue. We do not fight for a particular person," she claimed. "If Thaksin joined the conservative elite one day, we wouldn't be on his side."
Organizers say the rally is planned to go on for three days.
AFP, Thai Protesters burn Minister’s Effigy, 26 February 2009, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iHbUUMqsz-y4L5JJUDYRQ...
VOA News, Thai Protesters Rally at Foreign Ministry, 25 February 2009, http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-02-25-voa29.cfm
The Nation, Red-shirts: We're more than Thaksin stooges, 22nd Feb 2009, http://nationmultimedia.com/2009/02/22/politics/politics_30096284.php