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ID cards issued for protesters to boost security

MANY PROTESTERS at the Lumpini Park rally site were recently seen proudly holding up their "PDRC ID card", which not only allows them to walk around comfortably and safely in that area, but is also a symbol of the long fight against the Yingluck Shinawatra government.

The People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) is clearly following in the footsteps of the pro-government red shirts, who also issued ID cards to their protesters in 2010.

The PDRC version carries all information about the protester, such as address, telephone number, national ID number and, of course, a mugshot - except these details are stored in a barcode that can only be accessed by specific people.

PDRC core leader Witthaya Kaewparadai, who oversees the Silom and Lumpini Park rally sites, has tried to come up with measures to put a face and name to members of the crowd, Nonthiwat Nonthapak, Witthaya's secretary and a rally leader in Nakhon Si Thammarat, explained.


Nonthiwat said PDRC leaders were concerned about the safety of people gathering in Silom, partly because it was a very large area and also because there were far too many people. This concern became even greater after the shooting and bomb attacks on Tuesday night, he added.

Lumpini has now become the key camping ground for protesters who were originally at the Lat Phrao and Victory Monument rally sites. It will also be the main rally stage after the PDRC decided to mass at the park to limit the impact on city residents and businesses near other rally sites.

PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban announced last Friday that the anti-government mob would end their Bangkok Shutdown protest. Suthep said all rally sites would be disbanded except the one at Lumpini.

Nonthiwat, meanwhile, was most concerned about security at the park. "Everybody should know who is sleeping next to them. I can't imagine how dangerous it can get at night if the security guards don't have a screening system," he said, adding that getting everybody to carry an ID card at all times was definitely a good safety measure.

"If you are interested in becoming a member, you need to first book a place in one of the tents to spend a night at the rally site. You need to be a real fighter, not a bystander who just comes to take photos," he said.

So far, more than 5,000 protesters have a PDRC ID card, in the secure storage system created by engineering experts from Chulalongkorn, that can only be accessed by certain people.

"For instance, only I can see information about protesters at the Lumpini protest site as I am the registrar of the area. All the confidential information needs to be kept securely. If the information falls into the hands of state officials or enemies, it would endanger PDRC members," Nonthiwat said.

His team had initially created a simple card made of paper, but some businessmen got together and spent money on printing some 10,000 plastic cards.

Although the main reason for the ID card is to identify the protesters, including the farmers who have come to the capital to join the battle against the government, it will eventually become a keepsake - a reminder of the battle, a protester from Nakhon Si Thammarat said.

"We are thinking of bidding for lucky ID numbers to raise funds for the rallies. We may ask PDRC leader Suthep Thaugsuban to hand these special ID cards to winners," Nonthiwat said, adding that the card will expire the minute the Yingluck Shinawatra administration is toppled.

"If the PDRC wins the fight, the victory will belong to the people and those who contributed to the fight will be rewarded with a 'People's Victory Card'," Nonthiwat said.


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