The Thai government escalated its response to red-shirted protesters as their anti-government rally entered its second week, extending a tough security law and arming soldiers guarding key sites. Tens of thousands of protesters remained on the streets in the capital, clothed in their trademark red shirts, calling for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament. These extreme procedures emerged after it was evident the deep divisions existing within the troubled nation were nowhere close to resolution.
The unceasing demonstrations point to heightening levels of discontentment, which some argue may be a political front for ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra rather than anti-establishment and anti-government. Despite being in exile, Mr. Thaksin still remains prominent among his supporters, calling into rallies via online video platforms. Despite the continuous turmoil, it must be noted that while the protests have utilised unorthodox measures such as blood spilling, neither the government nor the demonstrators have resorted to violence.
The Internal Security Act, which allows the authorities to set up checkpoints, impose curfews and limit movement, had been enforced across eight provinces since March 11 recently expired on March 23. As the protests continue it is likely the cabinet will vote for an extension of the Internal Security Act till March 30 during their weekly meeting next Tuesday.
Thailand Likely to Extend Security Law During Protests [Reuters, 23 Mar 2010]
Tougher Measures Against Red Shirts [The Straits Times, 23 Mar 2010]
Thai Protest Rallies Point to Wider Discontent [BBC News, 19 Mar 2010