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Seeing red

Red Shirts protests spread in Thailand after government crackdown

Issue: "Gulf toil," June 5, 2010

In the heart of Bangkok's once-pulsing financial district, chaos reigned as anti-government protesters-dubbed "Red Shirts"-torched economic landmarks and thriving commercial attractions on May 19: The demonstrators set ablaze Thailand's stock exchange, a handful of banks, and the capital city's electric company. Central World shopping mall-the third-largest mall in Asia-burned to the ground.
The violent protests and government response have killed at least 70 people since Red Shirts began protesting in Bangkok on March 14. Officials declared a curfew as the city devolved into chaos. The chaos may continue: Despite the surrender of the movement's leaders to local officials, protesters continued rampages that threaten to spread beyond the capital city. The mostly rural demonstrators have demanded new elections, saying the current government is illegitimate. The parliament chose current prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva instead of holding elections. Vejjajiva offered to hold new elections in November, but protest leaders delayed accepting. The prime minister withdrew the offer.
The turmoil is the latest in a string of conflicts that have rocked Thailand since the country adopted constitutional rule in 1932. Since then, the nation has drafted 18 new constitutions and endured a series of military coups.

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Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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