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Understanding the colour-coded crisis

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-05-14

Thailand is deeply polarised. The conflict between "Red Shirts" and "Yellow Shirts" is pushing the country to the brink. France 24 takes a closer look at the two rival camps.

Red Shirts

The United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), is a group of Thai anti-government activists commonly referred to as the “Red Shirts”. Many Red Shirts back the exiled prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra due to his previous efforts to help the country’s poorer rural population. They accuse the current government of being illegitimate and elitist.
The majority of Red Shirts come from rural, working class backgrounds, but the grouping does have support and members in the cities. Among their most vocal leaders are former journalist Veera Musikapong and ex-PM Jatuporn Prompan. The group also counts the support of a military faction that includes retired generals allied with Thanksin.
Red Shirts have been staging rolling protests in Bangkok since mid-March and are demanding early elections.
Yellow Shirts
Supporters of the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thai “Yellow Shirts” are a movement comprised largely of royalists, the urban elite and bureaucrats, and they wear ‘yellow shirts’ as it is the traditional colour of the king. They accuse the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra of being corrupt
The Yellow Shirts launched street protests that precipitated the bloodless 2006 coup that toppled former premier Thaksin. They are headed by media mogul Sondhi Limthongkul and former general Chamlong Srimuang, and count members of the military amongst their supporters.
Many of Bangkok's 15 million residents are fed up with the weeks of Red Shirt protests that have crippled the capital and are thus joining the Yellow Shirt movement.
A timeline of key dates in the Thai political crisis
September: The army seizes power in a bloodless coup while Thaksin is in New York. More than a year of military rule follows.
October: Clashes between police and demonstrators result in two deaths and leave nearly 500 injured. A court sentences Thaksin in absentia to two years in jail for conflict of interest.
Thailand is deeply polarised. The conflict between "Red Shirts" and "Yellow Shirts" is pushing the country to the brink. France 24 takes a closer look at the two rival camps.
November-December: Thousands of Yellow Shirts blockade Bangkok's airports. A
Background : Who are the Red Shirts?
state of emergency is declared which lasts for nearly two weeks.
December: The Constitutional Court dissolves Somchai's party, forcing him out as prime minister. British-born Abhisit Vejjajiva of the rival Democrat Party becomes premier in a parliamentary vote in which he leads a six-party coalition.
April: Red Shirts storm the venue of an Asian summit in the beach resort of Pattaya, forcing the evacuation of regional leaders.
March: Tens of thousands of Red Shirts begin demonstrations calling for Abhisit's government to step down, saying it is elitist and undemocratic. The premier and key ministers hole up in an army barracks.
April 7: Red Shirts force their way into the parliament compound, causing lawmakers to flee and government ministers to be airlifted to safety.
April 10: Military attempt unsuccessfully to remove Red Shirts from Bangkok’s retail district. The ensuing clashes leave 25 dead and more than 800 injured.


Date created : 2010-04-23