Red shirts force Democrats to move rally
- Published: 20/04/2013 at 02:42 PM
- Online news:
SI SA KET - A blockade by red-shirt demonstrators forced the Democrat Party to move the site of a rally featuring leader Abhisit Vejjajiva in Si Sa Ket on Saturday evening.
About 500 red shirts blocked all roads leading to Rajabhat Si Sa Ket University, where the opposition party had been scheduled to hold a political event.
The Democrats moved their event to a field in front of Thesaban 7 School about two kilometres away. However, the red shirts followed with loudspeakers which they used to heckle key Democrat figures.
One red-shirt demonstrator approached the stage and attempted to interrupt speeches, prompting senior Democrat Suthep Thaugsuban to urge his party's supporters to stay calm.
Mr Suthep said the reactions of the red shirts were the behaviour of "hooligans" and did not reflect democracy.
Abhisit: Free speech should be respected.
He blamed the government for allowing disturbances to take place against the Democrat Party while Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra could visit the South without a protest. The South is the political stronghold of the Democrats.
The Democrats in the past year have encountered several attempts by red-shirt supporters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) to disrupt its meetings in various parts of the country.
Mr Abhisit has said that his party respects freedom of speech and that the red shirts should do the same if they believe in democracy.
Mr Suthep said the Democrats would continue to speak across the country to oppose the government's plan to give amnesty to the "terrorists" who took part in political unrest that led to deaths during the term of the previous Democrat-led administration in 2010.
Mr Abhisit told supporters it was disappointing that the government planned to borrow 2 trillion baht for road and railway projects but would not spend a single baht from the borrowing for the development of public health and education.
Earlier in the day, demonstrators from the Lumduan Daeng group had blocked roads to Rajabhat Si Sa Ket University with vehicles, coffins and tyres. The gathering also blocked staff and students of the university from entering.
Pornchai Maneenil, the group's chairman, said the red-shirts would do everything possible to prevent Mr Abhisit and his team from taking to the rally stage. "We are gathering here to expel Mr Abhisit from our province," he said.
Local police restored access to the campus but allowed red shirt demonstrators to continue with their rally. By that time, the Democrats had decided to move their event in order to avoid a confrontation.
Democrat deputy leader Issara Somchai chose the school where about 300 police were deployed to secure order.
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