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Thousands at Government House

Thousands at Government House

Photo by Korbphuk Phromrekha

An estimated 40,000 Thaksin supporters in red shirts yesterday mounted the largest protest against the government since Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva took power and marched from Sanam Luang to Government House.

More supporters and members of the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship were expected to join by the weekend, and some leaders even claimed that hundreds of thousands would arrive from upcountry by tomorrow.

Protesters got furious at finding about a dozen dumpster-sized, sand-filled metal containers blocking Makkawan Bridge on Rajdamnoen Avenue and other spots around Government House.

DAAD leaders ordered a mobile crane to remove the containers. Two were dumped into a canal in front of Gate 1 at Government House.

One was turned into a makeshift lavatory, one was used to block off Government House's western gate from the outside others served as blank canvasses for graffiti to release the protesters' anger at the containers, which were believed to have been put up by the Army.

"The Armed Forces belong to the people and aren't someone's private property," read one message spray-painted on a container.

"They never give us justice and that's why the number of red-shirt people is visible all over the land now," said another.

DAAD co-leader Weng Tojirakarn urged the men to guard the protest site, which surrounds the Government House compound, at night, while women would relieve them during the day.

"Let the enemy not attack us at 4am or 5am," Weng told the crowd in front of Government House in the late afternoon.

Anger was vented at various spots, with lesser-known and unknown members of the DAAD ridiculing or inciting hatred against those they regard as their enemies.

"I don't feel any stress," said a woman, who introduced herself to the crowd from the back of a pickup truck as Mae Daeng from Nakhon Ratchasima.

"This is because when I get up in the morning the first thing I do is I lambaste Thep Thaug [on community radio]," she said.

She was referring to Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who met the Army chief just prior to the formation of this administration, leading to the belief that this is an Army-engineered government.

Daeng went on to verbally abuse the People's Alliance for Democracy and others and whipped up the crowd into jeering.

By then, which was about 5pm, Mae Daeng's picture printed with a smiling Thaksin Shinawatra next to her was placed on a metal traffic fence standing on top of the large container now blocking the back entrance of Government House.

Shortly before 6pm, at Gate 1 on the eastern side of Government House, a group of protesters lashed out at a television reporter and her crew from TV Thai public television, formerly known as Thai PBS.

"Lies! Lies!," they screamed, livid at the live reporting just a stone's throw away near the front lawn inside the Government House compound.

The protesters regard TV Thai as heavily biased against them.

"Liars, liars, aren't you ashamed," a woman yelled.

"Go hang yourself!" shouted another from outside the gate.

Soon one claimed that a male TV crew member gave them a vulgar sign with his hand. It got them roaring back even louder. "Go and take some drug and die!" a fuming male red shirt cried out.

Just a few minutes away, on the southern side of Government House, protesters were asking police if the packaged food being delivered through a gate was for Army officers inside or police.

"Don't give it to the soldiers," one said.

"If Abhisit comes tomorrow let him crawl in like a dog," said another, as loudspeakers and projectors were being set up in anticipation of Thaksin's promised phone-in later in the evening.


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