03/16/2010, 00.00
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Bangkok, the blood of the "Red Shirts" for the resignation of Abhisit

by Weena Kowitwanij
The protesters have launched a blood collection to be donated at the entrance of the government palace. The leaders of the protest besiege the building, guarded by officers in riot gear. The initiative causes concern for fear of epidemics and infection. The Thai premier rules out the possibility of quitting office. Buddhist and Catholic leaders pray for peace.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) - The "red shirts" have launched a massive blood donation campaign, to be donated at the entrances of the Government Palace if the Executive does not resign and new elections are not held. An extreme form of protest, though peaceful, which arouses concern about the possible spread of epidemics. However, the Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva stands firm and excludes the possibility of leaving office. Meanwhile, Catholic and Buddhist religious leaders call the faithful to pray for peace and national reconciliation.  

For five days, anti-government protesters have been patrolling the streets of Bangkok, with the aim of overthrowing the government. The "red shirts" loyal to former premier Thaksin Shinavatra in exile and supported by the opposition party United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), denounce the illegality of the executive led by Abhisit, that came to power in a military coup after the ouster of Thaksin.

  Veera Musikapong, leader of the "red shirts," was the first to give blood. He described it as a  "sacrifice" a demonstration of love for the country and "sincerity" of the intentions that guide the marchers. The goal is to collect at least 1000 litres of blood, from 100 thousand donors, which will be poured onto the entrance of Government House in Bangkok - home of the executive - manned by police officers in riot gear.  

"They will have to walk on our blood," said one protest leader, referring to members of the government. The protesters have reached the seat of government and, soon, could begin to release the contents of the bottles.

The new form of protest has attracted some alarm among health authorities, including the national Red Cross. The same Thaksin said he was "worried" about the collection of blood in the square, which could cause mass infections. A fear shared by the Minister of Health, who does not want to be drawn into the political struggle.  

However, the Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva rejects any idea of resignation. He ascended to power in December 2008 on  parliamentary appointment, after the court ruling that dismissed the former ruling party loyal to Thaksin. The Democrat Party - near Abhisit and party leader of the ruling coalition -   finished second in the last election and since 1992 has never won the majority vote.   Meanwhile, Thai Buddhist and Catholic leaders are calling for national concord, for fear that the protests could degenerate into street clashes as happened in April last year. Bishop John Bosco Panya Krischaroen, Secretary General of the Conference of Thai Bishops, has sent a message to churches and seminaries, inviting Catholics to pray for peace. The country is divided, emphasizes the prelate, and many are "scared" by the turn that events may take. For this reason the bishops ask Thai Catholics for "special prayers to God and Our Lady to give peace to Thailand".  

Buddhist Monk Phra Wor. Vatcharamaethee, recalls that "those who do not live their lives according to the teachings of the Buddha, can not be good politicians, or even honest people." He adds that the "unique characteristics" of a public official is "knowledge, wisdom, kindness, honesty, administrative capacity, friendship within the team, vision, foresight and skill in making the right decisions."  

Parinya Taewanaruemitrekul, deputy dean at Thammasat University, notes, "the yellow shirts and red shirts have contributed to the development of democracy in Thailand, but to overcome the" transition period" and useless bloodshed should be avoided."

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See also
Divided, Thais to vote on 3 July
Bangkok: partial sentence for Thaksin, confiscated half of frozen assets
Bangkok : tens of thousands take to streets against government , fears of new violence
Bangkok "red shirts" raid on a hospital, patients evacuated
Yellow Shirts call for martial law as a Catholic colonel is buried


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