Bangkok, Thailand – Anti-government demonstrations that had raged violently for days morphed into a festival-like atmosphere in the Thai capital on Tuesday, after police removed barricades and let the protesters freely enter strategic offices.
It was a strange turn of events after a night of running street battles left dozens wounded, with burned out vehicles scattered in front of Government House.
Outside the Metropolitan Police Bureau protesters hugged police officers, shook their hands, and gave them flowers before peacefully dispersing by early afternoon.
The strange scene juxtaposed the past two days with police firing rubber-coated bullets and tear gas, and dousing demonstrators with chemical-filled water.
“For two days it was like war,” protester Kanjana Saeiu, 41, from the southern island of Phuket, told Al Jazeera on the trash-covered street.
“It’s completely different today. It shows how much Thai people love each other. You won’t see a situation like this anywhere else in the world.”
It remains to be seen what will happen next. The demonstrators have demanded that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration resign, but she says she was democratically elected and has no plans to step down.