The lines have, so to speak, been drawn up for the pro-democracy demonstration due to be held this weekend. The ISOC has met and announced that 37 ‘companies’ of police and military forces will be stationed to regulate the demonstrations – checkpoints will search the demonstrators (many tens of thousands are expected but it is always difficult to know exactly how many will in fact show up) and reports are that many checkpoints on roads around the city have been established to prevent people from outside Bangkok from making it into the city (some people are travelling individually and incognito as a result).
The demonstration itself will focus on the competence and character of the Abhisit/PAD/military regime – pro-democracy redshirts argue that the incompetence of the government at a time of economic crisis is such that there should be a dissolution of parliament and people given a genuine chance to be governed by people for whom they have voted. They also argue that a variety of scandals and alleged instances of corruption should lead to PM Abhisit (and some others) being impeached and removed from office.
The rightist government and its media friends have tried, as a means of disguising the issues at hand, to portray the forthcoming demonstration as being likely to lead to violence and disorder and, also, that it is all some kind of conspiracy mounted by former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who is treated as some kind of devil for his temerity in challenging the aristocratic elite. Consider this story, for example.
It is not likely that there will be any immediate positive change from the demonstration (a positive change would be a move towards democracy), since it is the secret hand which will decide when Abhisit is obliged to give up his power and the secret hand follows its own agenda. On the other hand, there is a real danger that violence will break out (possibly through the use of agents provocateurs as has happened previously) and innocent people will be wounded or killed. At least these days we have the technology to photograph and record what will occur – and these images do leak out, despite this repressive regime’s attempts to suppress political dissidence ruthlessly