Retro Action, March 27, 2009: In Thailand, A "Red Scare" For Democracy

Mar 25, 2011
Originally from Baltimore, Oliver lives and writes on a quiet, tree-lined street in Brooklyn.
Two supporters hold up signs during a February celebration. (Chaiwat Subprasom / Reuters)

With the recent outbreak of civil unrest across the Middle East and North Africa, it may seem like a long time ago that Thailand was the setting for a similar sort of democratic uprising.  

Yet it was just two years ago today that Bangkok was stormed by the "red shirts" — aka the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship — who were organizing their first rally against what they felt was a military regime.  

It all began in 2006, when Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a military coup. Angered and upset by the wealthy elite that took his place, the rural working class began a movement calling for snap elections that soon gained traction across the coutnry.

Inevitably, as their numbers grew, the peaceful protest turned violent. After suffering 91 casualties and 1800 injuries over 10 weeks, the red shirts finally surrendered to military forces. 

Now, a two years later, their numbers are as strong as ever — just two weeks ago, some 40,000 supporters gathered in Bangkok in memory of the lives lost during the weeks of political turmoill. 

As for those elections? They're promised for the first week of July. 

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