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The Red Shirt revolutionary spirit

Text by Cyril PAYEN

Latest update : 2010-04-29

Seh Daeng, a renegade army general, has abandoned his allegiance to the Thai government to join the anti-government Red Shirt movement. FRANCE 24's special correspondent Cyril Payen followed him through the busy streets of Bangkok.

The general has fought on many fronts, but his new enemies are the Thai government and its army. Seh and his cohorts are at the heart of a month-long dispute with the government that has erupted into violence on several occasions, killing dozens and injuring almost 1000 people in Bangkok.


He sees parallels between Thailand's Red Shirts and the pro-democracy protesters in China in 1989. “It’s like Tienanmen in China. The government wants to send the tanks against its own people. In this country, the elite and the army are partial and unfair... Instead of accusing the Red Shirts, the government should investigate its own ranks and its own army to find the real bombers and the killers."


The self-proclaimed "commander" of the Red Shirts also draws parallels between his goals and those of the French Revolutionaries. “Here, it’s just like Paris two centuries ago, at the Bastille.”


Not everyone shares Seh’s heroic image of himself. Some Thais view him as a terrorist. But he doesn’t seem worried, telling Payen, “There are many snipers here. But I’m not afraid. I don’t care!"


The Red Shirts, who support ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, have demanded immediate elections. The increasingly violent protests are putting more and more pressure on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to break up the Red Shirt camp.


The protesters have more than one trick up their sleeve; they have been trying to get the international community involved, much to the annoyance of the Thai government, who have insisted that the riots are an internal affair.
 

Date created : 2010-04-29

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