Peaceful Demonstrations in Bangkok This Afternoon

In the afternoon August 26 2008 demonstrations held by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) were peaceful. The two largest gatherings were at the Government Building and at the occupied TV station NBT.
According to the Bangkok Post today this will be the final fight of PAD. If they don’t succeed in overthrowing the government now, they’ll give up. In the interview given by one of the PAD leaders, Sondhi Limthongkul, PAD feels certain that Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and his cabinet will be toppled this time.

Even though it isn’t Monday, yellow is the colour worn by thousands of Thais in Bangkok today. They have come from all over Thailand in order to participate in the demonstrations against the government. PAD has occupied several ministries and government buildings.
 Earlier today large crowds strolled down Ratchadamnoen Nai Road followed by trucks with speakers pronouncing the aim of the demonstrations – to remove the present government in Thailand. 
 The sun was baking and water and towels soaked in ice were handed out at every corner. Some of the demonstrators waved flags, but most of them used “plastic hands” to make noise and show their agreement to what was said on stage. “I love Thailand and the King” was printed on many of the yellow T-shirts. All ages were represented, and everybody participated by nodding or loudly cheering.
 Another place in Bangkok at the TV station NBT, PAD guards stood at the entrance. They searched the bags on everyone, who wanted to enter the area, where speeches were hold from the top of a truck. Every once in awhile the speakers took a break, and the tunes of a singer and a violin came out of the loud speakers instead.
 There was a quiet atmosphere and both places could just as well bring memories to a Sunday concert in the park, if it weren’t for the big banners saying “Most wanted for crimes against the Kingdom of Thailand” showing former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife Pojjaman. Men dressed in army looking clothes with weapons in their hands also disturbed the picture of a peaceful gathering in the park.
The police are represented at the demonstrations, but so far it is only in order to control the traffic.
The number of demonstrators is estimated 30.000 at least. The rumour has it that the police have been given orders to arrest the five leaders of PAD later this evening.  What will happen is still unknown.

The Scandinavian Embassies advice foreigners to avoid demonstrations and large crowds. Besides this they should keep a close eye on the local media and follow the advice of the local authorities. If in a car you should also pay attention to the blockades in Bangkok and at driveways to and from Bangkok.

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