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White mask rallies spread

Jun 16. 2013
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By The Nation

1,000 condemn police in march in capital; red shirts gather to show support for govt
Anti-government white-mask protesters gathered in many provinces yesterday despite opposition from red-shirt supporters of the government.
In Bangkok, about 1,000 people – many wearing white Guy Fawkes masks – gathered at the CentralWorld shopping complex yesterday afternoon.
It was the third weekly gathering for the white maskers in the capital.
The demonstrators walked past the Royal Thai Police headquarters, located not far from Ratchaprasong shopping district. The walk was intended to protest against police “inaction” over red shirts’ acts of intimidation against white-mask people in Chiang Mai on Friday.
White maskers also gathered in other provinces to show solidarity with the Chiang Mai protesters, despite earlier physical abuse by red-shirt supporters of the government and ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
In Bangkok, the demonstrators shouted “Thaksin’s lackeys, get out!” when they walked past the police headquarters. 
About 50 red shirts gathered at the nearby Gaysorn department centre, but there were no reports of clashes between the two groups.
Street demonstrations by the white-mask people were also held in other provinces. These included the northeastern provinces of Nakhon Ratchasima, Buri Ram and Khon Kaen, and the southern provinces of Songkhla and Nakhon Si Thammarat.
The number of mask-wearing demonstrators was estimated at a few hundred in those provincial gatherings.
According to the Facebook page of ‘V for Thailand’, which releases information about the white mask movement, similar gatherings were held in more than 22 provinces in all regions.
Earlier yesterday, red shirts gathered in Khon Kaen in a show of support for the Yingluck government, lambasting the anti-administration white mask group and the Democrat Party. Around 200 red shirts gathered at the city shrine opposite the Central Department store, taking to a stage to attack the white mask group and the opposition party. They also issued a letter of protest to Central for allowing the white mask group to use its compound to stage anti-government protests on June 9.
Meanwhile, Phumjai Chaiya, a red-shirt leader known as DJ Tom from Chiang Mai, has called on red shirts via a “red” community radio from Lamphun, Lampang and Chiang Mai to travel to the Three Kings monument on Phra Pokklao Road in Chiang Mai for a show of force against the white mask protesters.
Phumjai said although there was a clash between the white masks and the red shirts during the anti-government protest at Chiang Mai University’s Health Park and Hillside Condominium on Friday, red shirts had been instructed not to resort to violence. They would gather peacefully so that their rally does not trouble members of the public and tourists.
Pheu Thai MP for Lamphun, Sanguan Pongmani, yesterday contested allegations that the red shirts resorted to violent suppression of the white-mask group. He said the red shirts did not start the assault as alleged, claiming that reds were enraged because “their leaders were killed during the protest at the Ratchaprasong intersection in 2010”. He said the red shirts were also challenged by white mask protesters holding placards lambasting Thaksin Shinawatra.
Green Politics coordinator Suriyasai Katasila demanded that the Yingluck government rein in the red shirts to prove that it does not support violence or intend to lead the country into anarchy so that it can stage a coup against its own government.
Suriyasai said the conflict between the red shirts and the white masks was intensifying and likely to spread to many provinces. The government and police must stop the red shirts, especially those in Chiang Mai carrying out illegal acts. The government camp had been acting like a hypocrite and police had been lax, he said.
“The government has not taken any action over the clash of protesters as it wants such reports to divert public attention or overshadow reports of rice pledging losses. The government’s failure in its major policies and its failed administration could trigger a repeat of ‘dark power’ taking control of the country as happened in 2006,” he said. 
“The government is creating the conditions for a coup because not only should it have prevented the clashes, it has actually been pulling the strings behind them.”
Pheu Thai MP Prompong Nopparit denied the party’s MPs were behind the red shirts in instigating a violent clash against the white masks.

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