Concerns were raised in the travel industry after Thailand’s “red shirt” protesters, who support the current regime and profess allegiance to the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, staged a gathering in Bangkok on Sunday.
The protest, which was about 35,000-people strong according to police reports, was organised by the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, commonly referred to as “Red Shirts”, to oppose lawmakers’ suspension of a constitutional amendment that would allow for the return of Thaksin to the country. The controversial former government leader was ousted by a military coup in 2006 and faced corruption charges in 2008. He has been on self-imposed exile since November 2008, claiming that he has been politically persecuted. His sister Yingluck later became the prime minister in 2011 after the Pheu Thai Party won a general election.
But today everything is back to normal in the protest area, which was at the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue, and all the Red Shirts have gone home, confirms Roger Wu, Hong Kong-born guidebook author and blogger who splits his time between his native city and Bangkok.
They chose June 24 for their gathering as it marks the anniversary of a 1932 revolution that brought an end to absolute monarchy in Thailand.
In 2010, a Red Shirt rally in Bangkok ended in the death of 90 people and left 2,000 injured. It also caused travel warnings to be issued by governments across the world, a national state of emergency to be imposed (see story here) and hotels in the area to relocate guests (see story here.)