Why Are Thai Protesters Using Blood in ‘Red Shirt’ Political Demonstrations?

BY Larisa Epatko  March 18, 2010 at 11:00 AM EST

Thai government protesters, who call themselves “Red Shirts,” rallied Thursday for a fifth straight day in Bangkok, after dousing the prime minister’s residence gates with their own blood as a symbol of their discontent.

The protesters back former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was removed by a military coup in 2006, and have been pushing the current government under Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva for new elections. They say the government favors the elite to the detriment of the working class.

“Most recently they have said that they will follow the prime minister around wherever he goes and give him no peace,” said GlobalPost‘s correspondent in Bangkok Patrick Winn. So far the protests have reportedly been largely non-violent, though dramatic.

The group most recently launched a needle drive to collect blood from tens of thousands of protesters, stored in plastic jugs and then emptied onto the prime minister’s compound, ruling party headquarters and personal residence.

“It really was quite a dramatic and grotesque scene. I was at the prime minister’s home when it was splashed with blood, and his front gate was just totally red with blood,” said Winn.

“The Red Shirts say it symbolizes the toll that’s been extracted from them via double-standards in Thailand, being pushed around,” he said.

Hear more of Winn’s description of the class struggles in Thailand and recent protests: