These are some of the pictures that I took at the red shirt rally today in Bangkok. It was another of those historic days in Thailand and although I was very busy taking pictures at other events in Samut Prakan, I decided I should make the time to travel into Bangkok to see what was happening for myself.
Bangkok Dangerous Map – closed roads, shopping malls and locations of bomb attacks
After the talks with the Thai government collapsed last week, it can be seen that the red shirt leaders are now resorting to more desperate measures in order to force the prime minister to step down and also for the dissolution of Parliament. Today, the majority of the red shirts moved to a new location in the heart of Bangkok’s shopping district.
At the busy Ratchaprasong Intersection, the red shirts quickly set up a temporary stage in the middle of the road bringing the traffic to a halt. This was the scene about three hours later when I turned up. The whole area in front of Central World Plaza was literally a sea of red. Both directions as far as the eye could see.
By this time, Central World Plaza, Central Chitlom, Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery and a number of other big shopping malls along this road had closed their doors. They were fearing violence, but as the past weeks have shown us, the red shirts know how to rally in a civil manner. However, as they are getting desperate, there is now a real risk of this turning into violence.
Local businesses are naturally upset as they are losing millions of baht. The small roadside vendors are of course having a field day as snacks and cold drinks are being snapped up by the red shirts. The police made an announcement that the protesters had to leave the area by 9 p.m. or they will be arrested. This deadline has now passed. There were just too many red shirts occupying the area.
What the red shirts have managed to do is turn a busy 6 lane road into a walking street and car park. This stretched for 2.16 kilometres (1.34 miles) from the intersection by MBK shopping mall to about Phloenchit Intersection. All of the main shopping malls along this road were closed. This includes Erawan Shrine which is popular with foreign tourists. The only mall left open was MBK.
Some people estimated about 100,000 red shirts at the rally. It is difficult to judge for sure as they were so spread out. Most were at the Ratchaprasong Intersection. However, as there were loudspeakers all along the two kilometre route, people could basically sit or lie down anywhere. Even though there were so many, they still managed to bring in free food and drinks. Many people were also donating money to the red shirt cause.
I was posting pictures live this afternoon on my Twitter account @RichardBarrow. Today I was also posting live on my moblog at www.mythailandblog.com.