This is the first main day of the full Red Shirts presence in Bangkok—there avowed aim, to bring down the incumbent Thai Government, led by their political opponents (the Yellow Shirts). I attended the RS rally point at the Democracy Monument this morning, and walked along with them for part of their march through Bkk. All in all, a non-threatening experience. The RSs were smiles and niceness—not the sought of attitude likely to send a shiver of fear through the Prime Minister Mr Abhisit. I even purchased a few Red Shirt souvenirs.
There is a definite class/regional orientation to this rally. The folk come from the provincial areas of Thailand, principally, as far as I could detect, from the north east province of Esarn. These are the dark skinned people who work the fields and clean the hotels of the Thai tourism business. Many protestors proudly identified their home town to me. There beliefs were emblazoned for all to read, even in English. They want 'justice', 'dissolve parliament', 'equal law', and so forth. Mr Thaksin was present, albeit only by image. Placards, badges and t-shirt carried his face amongst his people.
Numbers? I am certain that it is not one million, but certainly lots. Closer I would guess to 100,000. The effect? Overall, not much. Some traffic congestion, but life goes on in the Big Mango. Still a few days to go, lets see what happens.