Monday, March 15, 2010

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

The Red Shirt protests have remained peaceful.  In fact, when their caravan of pickups and buses loaded with supporters made its way past my office this morning, there was more of a celebratory, Memorial Day parade feeling than a grim march to war.  Twangy, upbeat Isaan (northeastern Thailand) music was blaring out of cars and megaphones, and people were smiling, waving, cheering, and generally having a great time. 
The only thing that felt a bit threatening to me were the Red Shirts' (ninja) guards, "Defenders of the People", appointed to protect the protesters and fight back if the military makes it necessary.  These men were decked out in all black, some with ski masks over their faces, and dark sunglasses, a look resembling a mix between a bank robber and an intimidating highway patrolman.
OK, maybe not so intimidating with his sign language love and the guy behind him hamming it up for my camera.

Here are some more random pictures of regular people showing their support:
Yes, that is an American flag...

As the protesters have not made much progress politically in the past few days, perhaps there will be some action before they pack up and head home on Wednesday, as planned.  (Many, tired from the traveling and the heat, have already started leaving despite protests and encouragement from their leaders, according to The Nation.)  It seems that the Red Shirts are prepping for some serious bloodshed tomorrow, though of a non-violent kind.  How is that possible?  The Red Shirt leaders are requesting all protesters donate 1 cc of blood so that tomorrow evening they can pour 1 million cc's (the approximate equivalent to normal blood donations from 2,500 people) around the Government House, Democrat's Headquarters, and the Prime Minister's home.  Fears abound regarding the public health aspect of this plan; the Red Cross has refused involvement and warned of disease transmission.  Rumors have it that the blood scheme is the Red Shirts' "exit strategy" and a means of saving face.  Does this mean all will be quiet on the home front  come Wednesday or will the movement drag on and potential for real bloodshed increase?

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