Protesters, members of the Red Shirt Party, mean business in Thailand. These protesters, educated and well informed, and polite and civil in most encounters, are now insisting on free elections in Thailand. The Red Shirt Party is not new. They made headlines in 1992. But today is a different time, a new concept.
One Red Shirt leader, a man named Karuna, quoted in a Time Online article, says: "In 1992 we were united in what we wanted: democracy. But today people have different ideas of what democracy is. The divisions in society are much deeper." Karuna continues, "For the middle class that by and large supports the government, democracy now means clean, effective government and elections that are not tainted by vote-buying, fraud or violence.
An article from The Age, dated May 20, 2010, describes the ending moments of a night of protest. The demonstrators had seized control of a shopping district, and were encamped their behind bamboo barriers. Before dawn, the Thai Government moved to regain control of the area. Thousands of troops, with armored vehicles, ringed the protest site. At sun-up the armored vehicles plunged through the bamboo barricades. The Red Shirt protesters were able to respond in kind, with handguns, rifles, grenades — and when these were exhausted, the demonstrators found themselves throwing bricks! Within the shopping mall thousands of women and many, many children were unable to leave, held defacto by the protesters.
The combat lasted about five hours; the Red Shirts saw no hope of victory. The Red Shirt leaders instructed their following protesters, numbering about 3000, to concede the loss; to go home peacefully. Protest leader Jatuporn Prompan instructed the fighters for democracy that, ’’Though the fight didn't reach our goal, we tried our best. Go home. We are sorry for not sending you home earlier. Go home safe". Nattawut Saikua, another leader, said, as he was being arrested, "Brothers and sisters, I'm sorry I cannot see you off the way I welcomed you all when you arrived here... Please return home." The leaders, called terrorists by the Thai Army, urged supporters not to give up the fight for political change.