As the Red Shirts continued to evolve they became more bold and violent. They changed from simply protecting their own turf to actively attacking others who were trying to show their political views that were against corruption. Their first targets were the Yellow Shirt Protests that started mid 2008. For lack of a better general description, the Red Shirts became enforcers of corruption.
As the Anti-Thaksin protests grew in size, so did the level of violence against them. Things were evolving from fists, to clubs to the use of military weapons. Needless to say military weapons are not off the shelf items at a military surplus store, so someone with connections was providing them.
The Red Shirts by this point had become Thaksin’s thugs and growing increasingly aggressive towards people who Had different political ideas. People were warned about wearing a yellow shirt as it could cause Red Shirts to just come and attack them for no other reason than wearing a yellow shirt. This warning went out to foreigners through their embassies as well as Thais.
As far as the Red Shirts were concerned, there was no debate about political ideology, it was our way or face our wrath. Their increasing frequent talks about protecting democracy and using that as a battle cry was a basis for their behavior. The unfortunate reality was ‘Protecting Democracy’ was the wrong label for what they were actually doing.
As time progressed the pro-Thaksin People Power Party (PPP) being the first elected Government under the new 2007 Constitution, found out the hard way that the new Constitution had teeth and was not afraid to bite. The PPP proceeded in the same old behavior as the previous Constitution thinking they could get away with things and not get caught. Unfortunately for Thaksin the PPP suffered a self inflicted fatal wound and the opposition party took power.
That clearly angered Thaksin and he started to make a case that it was not democracy and that true democracy needed to be protected. So at that time the Red Shirts took up Thaksin’s cause and in 2009 proceeded to launch violent attacks against the new Government. The reality was the chain of events were within the law and procedures were outlined in the Constitution and thus democratic. So the reason why Thaksin was so against the Constitution was starting to become clear.
In March 2009 Thaksin and the Red Shirts launched a major push to take over the Government in what is best described as Thaksin’s personal coup. Red Shirt riots broke out and the first look at their violent nature was on full display with plenty of news coverage and plenty of YouTube clips to review at any time.
The Government called a State of Emergency and the military brought an end to the Red Shirt violence in a few days, and Thaksin more or less disappeared for 9 months while he regrouped and set new plans for new attacks using the Red Shirts. Those attacks would turn out to be the most grand and destructive attacks of the Red Shirts to date.
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