New Thai Red Shirt leader prepares for ‘big battle’

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Jatuporn
Jatuporn Prompan

The new leader of Thailand’s pro-government “red shirt” movement said on March 17 that his supporters would take to the streets in support of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra if the elite or the courts dared try to oust her.

The red shirts have kept to the sidelines during the past 4.5 months of political unrest in Thailand, while anti-government protesters forced state offices to close and disrupted an election in February. But any further threat to Yingluck could see their patience snap, warned Jatuporn Prompan, who became leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), as the red shirts are formally known, on the weekend.

Thousands of supporters attended the rally in Ayutthaya north of Bangkok to witness the change of leadership.

“We’re going to fight tooth and nail to defend this government but we will do so peacefully,” Jatuporn said.

“Thailand’s political crisis will not end with these street protests. This is about the Bangkok elite denying grassroots people the right to play a part in the democratic process. We can’t let this go on,” he added.

The crisis pits protesters, mainly middle-class Bangkok residents and southerners backed by the military and the establishment, against supporters of Yingluck and her brother, ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, from the rural north and northeast.

Jatuporn helped organise the uprising against a previous government that ended in a bloody military crackdown in May 2010, and supporters like his no-nonsense attitude. He replaced Thida Thawornseth, a former member of the banned Communist Party of Thailand whose schoolteacher demeanour and lofty speeches left some wondering whether she was out of touch with the movement’s grassroots supporters.

Jatuporn still faces terrorism charges related to the violence in 2010. Thai army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha called Jatuporn “a bandit”, telling reporters that “if they [red shirts] are aggressive towards the military, I’ll be aggressive, too”.

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Jatuporn Prompan

The new leader of Thailand’s pro-government “red shirt” movement said on March 17 that his supporters would take to the streets in support of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra if the elite or the courts dared try to oust her.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Jatuporn
Jatuporn Prompan

The new leader of Thailand’s pro-government “red shirt” movement said on March 17 that his supporters would take to the streets in support of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra if the elite or the courts dared try to oust her.

The red shirts have kept to the sidelines during the past 4.5 months of political unrest in Thailand, while anti-government protesters forced state offices to close and disrupted an election in February. But any further threat to Yingluck could see their patience snap, warned Jatuporn Prompan, who became leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), as the red shirts are formally known, on the weekend.

Thousands of supporters attended the rally in Ayutthaya north of Bangkok to witness the change of leadership.

“We’re going to fight tooth and nail to defend this government but we will do so peacefully,” Jatuporn said.

“Thailand’s political crisis will not end with these street protests. This is about the Bangkok elite denying grassroots people the right to play a part in the democratic process. We can’t let this go on,” he added.

The crisis pits protesters, mainly middle-class Bangkok residents and southerners backed by the military and the establishment, against supporters of Yingluck and her brother, ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, from the rural north and northeast.

Jatuporn helped organise the uprising against a previous government that ended in a bloody military crackdown in May 2010, and supporters like his no-nonsense attitude. He replaced Thida Thawornseth, a former member of the banned Communist Party of Thailand whose schoolteacher demeanour and lofty speeches left some wondering whether she was out of touch with the movement’s grassroots supporters.

Jatuporn still faces terrorism charges related to the violence in 2010. Thai army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha called Jatuporn “a bandit”, telling reporters that “if they [red shirts] are aggressive towards the military, I’ll be aggressive, too”.

 

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