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Red shirts plan big Phuket rally

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PHUKET TOWN: Leaders of Phuket’s small red shirt movement yesterday declared the group will no longer back down against parties denying them their right to free speech – and say they are planning a large regional rally in Phuket.

Four leaders of the ‘Phuket Protect Democratic Group’ [sic], the local branch of the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), called a press conference at the Khrua Sa-art Coffee Shop at Nimit Circle at about 5pm yesterday.

The press conference came just hours after villagers living near the navy base at Cape Panwa blocked their entry to the facility, where they had intended to present navy commanders with a bouquet of flowers in a show of moral support.

Wisut ‘Ae Inside’ Tangwittayaporn, who leads the embattled group, read a prepared statement to reporters about the attack on six red-shirts earlier that day.

The UDD had informed the navy base in advance of the visit, which was scheduled for 3pm, he said.

“Six of the group’s members arrived early, and we have all seen what happened next,” said Mr Wisut, an investigative journalist who once ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Phuket Provincial Administration Organization.

“We would first like to thank the navy personnel, who stepped in and kept our people from coming to harm,” he said.

“The purpose of the UDD’s visit to the navy was only to give them encouragement, as they always stand by the people. Sailors never lead coup movements,” he said.

Yesterday’s action was part of nationwide campaign by the UDD to encourage the military not to stage another coup, the group’s leaders claim.

Despite being vastly outnumbered in Phuket the local red shirts say they will no longer tolerate having their voices stifled, as they have a right to free speech.

“In keeping with our ideals every UDD gathering on the island so far has been peaceful, but every time we meet we face resistance from people identifying themselves as supporters of the People’s Alliance for Democracy. In the past we backed down, but from now on if there are unjustified actions causing harm to UDD members we will respond in kind, despite the impact on the economy,” he said.

In news that could send jitters down the spine of the local tourism industry, Mr Wisut confirmed that the Phuket UDD is planning a large regional rally on the island.

The date and time will be announced after the event is coordinated with UDD leaders in Bangkok and across the southern region, he said.

— Sitthipong Nongkaew

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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