ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Red shirts rally on protest anniversary
Thousands of anti-government 'Red Shirt' demonstrators took to Bangkok's streets Saturday amid a heavy police presence, marking a year since the start of protests in the capital that turned deadly. Thai society remains deeply divided following political violence that left about 90 people dead ,mostly civilians, in a series of bloody street clashes between armed troops and protesters in April and May of last year.
Police estimated that 10,000 people had joined Saturday's gathering by late afternoon with the numbers expected to swell significantly for an evening video-link address by the Reds' hero, ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
"In the past year we have suffered excruciating pain and been suppressed by the elite,'' said Nattawut Saikuar, one of seven main leaders of the movement recently released on bail after nine months in prison.
"I invite our brothers and sisters to come out tonight,'' he told a satellite television station run by the Reds.
The rally near Bangkok's Democracy Monument was expected to be the largest since May 2010, when troops firing live rounds and backed by armoured vehicles moved in to end the Reds' two-month demonstration.
After the crackdown, dozens of buildings were set ablaze across Bangkok, including a major shopping complex and the stock exchange.
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