Friday, April 17, 2009

Who are the Blue Shirts and what about the Black Shirts

In my previous blog, I referred to the rainbow on Thailand's streets. There are Yellow Shirts, Red Shirts, Blue Shirts and Black Shirts. We know who the Yellow and Red Shirts are, but what about the Blue and Black Shirts?

I came across Kevin Butters Twitter account that mentions them. Kevin originates from the UK and settled in Chiang Mai, Thailand around three years ago, having spent time living and working in China.

The Blue Shirts emerged when the Red Shirts began to mount a serious challenge to the government. First, they said they only wanted to protect public utilities, like the airport. But the Red Shirts soon accused them as being thugs hired by the government. Nirmal Ghosh writes about the confrontation between the Blue Shirts and Red Shirts which may shed light about the real leaders of the Blue Shirts.

In the early morning they (Red Shirts) began marching up the hill to the Royal Cliff Resort, venue of the summit, but came face to face with a few hundred of the pro-government militia, well organized with freshly printed dark blue T-shirts saying ‘Protect the Institution' – institution being the a reference to the monarchy.

All the blue shirts were armed with sticks, clubs and iron rods.The face-offs occurred at two locations, each with around 1,000 red shirts against about 150 blue shirts. The men in blue held pictures of the king and queen.

The blue shirted men – clearly a militia – essentially took shelter behind the army, whose officers made no attempt to disarm them.According to two sources, the blue shirts had been organized by the mayor of Pattaya, who is the son of ‘Kamnan Poh' – a controversial strongman of the province.

What are the reactions of Thai residents who are not directly involved in the political crisis? When the Red Shirts were leaving the ASEAN Summit venue in Pattaya, a group of people wearing black shirts began throwing stones at them. Who are they?

Indeed, the situation is becoming more and more unpredictable. The red shirts are able to move their forces from place to place. While the yellow shirts - the ones who closed the airport last Nov and Dec - have not yet re-appeared, the emergence of the blue shirts cannot bode well. It is even more troubling that on their very first appearance, the blue shirts provoked violence. “

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