Demonstrators march to US embassy, city

Demonstrators march to US embassy, city

Protest leader tries to gain support for rally

The anti-government demonstrators yesterday geared up for Sunday's mass rally by marching through downtown Bangkok and gathered outside the US embassy to protest against Washington's support of the Feb 2 general election.

More than 15,000 people joined the city march, which started from the main stage at Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue at about 10am. It then headed to Bangkok's business district of Siam, Ratchaprasong, Asok and Pratunam.

About 500 members of the Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand (NSPRT) also made a stop at the US embassy where they loudly denounced Washington for supporting the election.

PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban said the march was aimed at "inviting Bangkok residents to join the mass rally this Sunday to call for Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down as caretaker premier".

The protesters distributed copies of a four-page PDRC statement to the public.

The PDRC statement features a photo of people walking on a street holding a large Thai flag. Text on the front page explains why Thailand needs reform before an election, not after.

It explains what the PDRC thinks the public will get if the country has reform before the election. Also inside is a PDRC statement from Dec 9.

During the march, Mr Suthep, was greeted and cheered by the crowd who came out to give him moral support.

Traffic police reported brief congestion on some roads where Mr Suthep's procession was, but traffic returned to normal after the demontrators moved on.

After the demonstrators took a lunch break in the Asok area, NSPRT leader Nititorn Lamlua, led a group of about 500 protesters to rally in front of the US embassy.

The group demanded ambassador Kristie Kenney come out and listen to the protesters arguments as to why they want to remove Ms Yingluck and push for reform before a general election, not after.

They handed out an open letter at the rally strongly attacking Western governments and media organisations for unfair judgements and reporting on the political situation in Thailand.

"Your views and reports on the situation in Thailand have been very negative and biased, with much prejudice," the letter said. "We want to inform leaders or representatives of those Western governments and others that their concern over the situation here is unwarranted. Matters in Thailand are none of their business," it added.

"If you continue to 'express concern' time and again, directly or indirectly, then we presume that your growing concern is mainly based on your self-serving interests and that certainly signify ills for Thailand through uninvited interference in the internal affairs of our country," the letter said.

The protesters also set up a flag pole and put up a national flag to send the message to Washington through its embassy that the ongoing rallies are a Thai domestic issue.

The US State Department issued a statement last week supporting the attempt to solve the political impasse "peacefully and democratically".

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