Protests in May this year blocked a previous attempt to establish a Red Shirt Village in Phuket but the radical Red Shirts, linked to exiled former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, continue to attempt to set up Villages in every province of Thailand to prove the veracity of their slogan that “the whole of Thailand is Red”.
In provinces in Isarn and the North, where the Red Shirts (or to give them their official name, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship) have strong support, Red Shirt Villages have been established by the simple expedient of villagers deciding to declare their village red, hanging out red flags and erecting signs.
However, in the south, which generally supports the opposition Democrat Party, they have had little success so far.
Led by former Labour Minister Dr Prasong Buranapong, they did declare a Red Shirt Village in Trang province last Thursday (November 1) and they have also declared Villages in the troubled Deep South provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, though opponents say that only a handful of houses in those villages have openly declared support by hanging out red flags.
Yesterday’s protestors, numbering about 50, burned pictures of Red Shirt Village movement leaders, a coffin and a mock Red Shirt Village sign.
One of the Red Shirt village movement’s leaders, Anon Sannan, told The Phuket News, “We want to show the Amart people [the old and still powerful Thai élite] that there are Red Shirt people all around the country, in every province.
“We now have about 16,000 Red Shirt villages. We were planning to come to Phuket but we heard about the protest and decided to go to Songkhla instead.
“The Phuket protesters are not real Yellow Shirts – they are “third hand” – they are just doing it to annoy us,” he added.
A local leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, or Yellow Shirts, Saroj Dulayakong, who was one of the instigators of yesterday’s protest, said, “We cannot tolerate it when people intend to pull down the Thai flag and put up a red one, or pull down pictures of HM the King and replace them with pictures of Thaksin.”
He said that if the Red Shirts want to establish a village in Phuket they should hold a public hearing first.