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Thai 'Yellow Shirts' plan Bangkok rally

Thailand's royalist "Yellow Shirts" said today they would rally in Bangkok this weekend to pressure the government over a territorial row with Cambodia, in a show of strength by the movement.

world Updated: Aug 06, 2010 20:52 IST

Thailand's royalist "Yellow Shirts" said on Friday they would rally in Bangkok this weekend to pressure the government over a territorial row with Cambodia, in a show of strength by the movement.

At least 2,000 people are expected to attend the protest on Saturday, organisers said.

But the Yellows agreed to change the venue to a stadium in the city to avoid confrontation with the authorities, who earlier warned they would not be allowed to protest outside Government House as planned.

The compromise came after two hours of talks between Yellow representatives and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, a spokesman for the movement said.

Under a state of emergency imposed in Bangkok in April during mass anti-government protests, political gatherings of more than five people are currently banned.

The Yellows, formally called the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), have previously allied themselves with the current Thai political leadership but the spat is the latest sign that relations have soured.

Key PAD figure Sondhi Limthongkul accused Abhisit on Friday of "lying to the entire Thai nation" about the territorial issue.

The PAD has criticised the governing Democrat party of signing up to a deal with Thailand's neighbour in 2000 that the Yellows believe paved the way for recognition of a Cambodian land claim.

The group has demanded that Thailand tear up the memorandum of understanding, eject Cambodian citizens from the disputed 4.6 square kilometre (1.8 square mile) area, and try to regain control of the Preah Vihear temple.

Relations between the neighbouring countries, already strained by Cambodia's refusal to deport fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, have been further tested by the dispute.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Friday dismissed a Thai compromise proposal for the temple as "a dream".

The Yellow Shirts, who are backed by the Bangkok-based elite, are a force to be reckoned with in Thailand's colour-coded political landscape.

The group's rallies in 2006 helped trigger the coup that unseated Thaksin, the hero of the mostly poor, working class "Red Shirts", whose mass protests in Bangkok in April and May culminated in deadly clashes with troops.

The Yellows also mounted a siege of Bangkok's two main airports in 2008, which stranded hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists and helped to topple a government allied to Thaksin.

Many Red Shirt leaders are in jail for their roles in this year's protests, and the movement has complained that the lack of charges against Yellows showed a double standard of justice.

This week prosecutors again postponed a decision over whether to indict individual Yellow Shirts over the airport siege.

Red supporters plan a small demonstration of their own in Bangkok on Sunday to protest at the May crackdown on their rally, during which about 90 people died and nearly 1,900 were injured.