Bangkok, the 10th of October 2010: Although dispersing slightly later than the 5:00pm deadline set by authorities on Friday, police and protesters alike heralded the days display as a successful and more importantly, peaceful event.
Gathering from the early hours of the Sunday morning, Red Shirt protesters met at the King Rama VI Monument at Lumpini Park, where they made offerings to a gathering of Buddhist monks in memory of the assassinated Thai Army specialist and avid Red Shirt proponent Major-General Khattiya Sawasdipol (Seh Daeng).
Following ceremonies at Lumpini Park, the largest gathering of United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) protesters since the end of April/May’s occupation of central Bangkok, moved on to the Victory and Democracy Monuments along Ratchadamnoen Avenue. Security was tightened around the procession as the many thousands of protesters often spilled out onto the streets. Despite minor traffic congestion surrounding the immediate area throughout the day, police managed to control the mass-movement of protestors without incident or confrontation.
Ratchadamnoen ceremonies included a peaceful call for the Abhisit-led government to release over 200 Red Shirt protesters arrested and detained in prisons throughout the country, while many laid flowers at the iconic monuments in recognition and respect of those that died at the site during April 10 violence earlier this year.
Later, the lighting of over 20,000 Red-candles in the afternoon/evening signified the gatherings sorrow for the unnecessary death of some 89 people during April/May confrontations, at the completion of which, the group peacefully dispersed from the area.
Bangkok, including the three surrounding provinces of Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan and Pathum Thani, is still under the government imposed emergency decree, which was enacted in an attempt to control the political protests, which ignited during March. No stage or mass addresses were seen at the days proceedings with leaders of the UDD and Red Sunday group unwilling to push the boundaries of the aforementioned emergency decree or provoke unnecessary conflict with authorities on what was a commemorative occasion.
The controversial decree, derided by Human Rights campaigners both domestically and internationally, was recently extended by the Thai Cabinet, after intelligence reports suggested that more disturbances in the four central provinces were likely. The Cabinet and involved security agencies maintain the law is in place to assist authorities in controlling disturbances and preventing possible attacks.