09/21/2010, 00.00
THAILAND
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Pro-Thaksin "Red Shirts" against military coup

The Puea Thai Party is launching a series of activities to commemorate "the happiness” of the people before the ouster of former prime minister. On September 19 the "red shirts" marched through the streets of the capital, coinciding with the fourth anniversary of the uprising. Meanwhile the government continues with its policy of national "reconciliation".

Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Supporters of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra are once again in the limelight of Thailand’s political scene.  The Puea Thai Party (PTP) has announced the launch - scheduled for today – of a grassroots campaign to raise awareness: it will recall "the happiness of the people" before the 19 September 2006 coup d'Etat, that led to the ouster of Thaksin . Last weekend, coinciding with the fourth anniversary of the uprising, the "red shirts" demonstrated in the streets of Bangkok and other parts of Thailand challenging in some areas, the state of emergency imposed by the authorities.

Kanawat Wasinsangworn, deputy head of the PTP, confirmed the launch of the campaign entitled "Four years of lost happiness" and chaired by the President and former General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh. The pro-Thaksin activists are planning a series of exhibitions, the national distribution of leaflets, Internet propaganda and an explanation of party policies. Jirayu Huangsap, PTP spokesman, adds that the exhibition will show what the government of the Thai multimillionaire did "for the people" before he was deposed by a coup, alongside the "suffering caused by the current executive".

In recent days, the "red shirts" movement has also returned to the fore. They were the protagonists behind the lengthy antigovernment demonstrations last spring that were bloodily suppressed by the authorities. Last May’s clashes on the streets of Bangkok caused 90 deaths and left hundreds injured. Four months later, on Sept. 19, the "reds" marched through the streets, defying a state of emergency still in force. The event was attended by thousands of people and was held in a peaceful manner.

Jatuporn Promphan, a leader of the "red shirts", points out that the protesters "have always fought for democratic ideals" and "the more the government tries to kill them, they the more power they gain." Meanwhile, sources announced that the executive leaders of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) - the party close to former prime minister Thaksin - locked up in Bangkok prison are "favourable to the government plan of national reconciliation." Yesterday, the deputy prime minister Sanani Kachornprasart met one of the "red" leaders in prison and confirms the steps aimed at "reconciliation".

Despite the efforts of the executive led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thailand remains strongly divided politically and socially. The open wound of September 19th 2006 when a military coup led to the end of the political career of Thaksin Shinawatra has not yet healed.  The billionaire is still in exile to escape charges of corruption and insulting the monarchy. The "Red Shirts" and many of Thaksin's supporters are opposed to military interference in politics and call for economic reform in favour of the rural population and the poorest.

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