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Red shirts take blood protest to PM
Demonstrators make second "blood sacrifice" as they call for government to step down.
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2010 09:15 GMT
Demonstrators have resorted to "blood sacrifice" to demand fresh elections [GALLO/GETTY]

Red-shirted opposition supporters have spilt bottles of their own blood outside the entrance to the home of Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Thai prime minister, in a symbolic protest against the government.

Riot police initially blocked all approaches to the walled compound in the Sukhumvit district on Wednesday, but after negotiations, a few dozen demonstrators were allowed to squeeze through the police cordon to splatter the blood across the gates and walls.

in depth

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The move came a day after similar so-called "blood sacrifices" were made at Abhisit's office and the headquarters of his Democrat Party.

On Tuesday, the so-called red shirts collected hundreds of litres of their own blood that was symbolically spilled at the gates of Government House.

Police said more than 10,000 protesters remained in Bangkok on Wednesday, a far lower number than the 100,000 estimated to have been there when it began at the weekend.

Despite the dwindling numbers, protest leaders pleaded for patience saying that success was within their grasp, before the crowd left for the prime minister's empty and heavily-secured residence.

"We are near victory... If we make a mistake now we will be defeated for a long time. We want a sustainable victory so please be patient," Jatuporn Prompan, a red shirt leader, said.

About 900 security personnel are on guard at Abhisit's residence, which has been hit several times in recent weeks by protesters throwing bags of excrement at the walls.

Abhisit has been staying with other key leaders at an army barracks in the capital's northern outskirts since the rally began at the weekend.

The prime minister was due on Wednesday to fly to Thailand's far south, where a six-year separatist insurgency continues.

Illegitimacy claims

The protest is led by the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship loyal to Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister, who was deposed in a 2006 military coup.

The red shirts are protesting against the perceived elitism and illegitimacy of the Abhisit government, which came to power via a December 2008 parliamentary vote after a controversial court ruling ousted Thaksin's allies.

Security was tightened at Abhisit's residence in an upscale Bangkok district [Reuters]

Abhisit has twice rejected the protesters' demand to dissolve parliament, saying he must think of the country's interests and not only those of the red shirts.

Red shirt leaders have been using their rally stage to appeal for more protesters to arrive from the provinces.

Thaksin, who lives in exile to avoid a two-year jail term for graft at home, has been addressing the crowd via video link each night urging them to fight on.

Thailand has been in political turmoil since early 2006, when anti-Thaksin demonstrations began.

In 2008, when Thaksin's political allies came back to power for a year, his rival "yellow shirt" occupied the prime minister's office compound for three months and seized Bangkok's two airports for a week.

Bloody ritual

In Tuesday's blood-letting a few teaspoons of blood were drawn from each protester and transferred into dozens of large plastic water jugs that were passed overhead through the cheering crowd to be splattered at key locations.

Riot police allowed protest leaders to approach the front gate of Government House and pour out the blood, which oozed under the gate as national television broadcast the images live.

A medium was summoned to perform a ritual invoking a curse against the government [AFP]

A purported Brahmin priest in ceremonial robes performed an unorthodox black magic ritual on behalf of the red shirts.

"The blood of the common people is mixing together to fight for democracy," Nattawut Saikua, a protest leader, told supporters.

"When Abhisit works in his office, he will be reminded that he is sitting on the people's blood."

Minutes later, a government medical cleanup team in white coats, face masks and rubber gloves hosed down the site.

Health authorities had earlier warned that the protest risked spreading disease if infected blood splashed bystanders.

Surat Horachaikul, a political scientist at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, said he believed the protest organisers lacked plans for their next step and expected the rally to end in a few days.

"If nothing comes out of this rally, the government is likely going to become more stable," he said.

"Their movement will continue to put some pressure on the government, but Abhisit's administration will be able to stay in power in the next 8-12 months."

Source:
Agencies
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