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    Thai "Red Shirts" Mark Anniversary of Chaotic Protest


    by NTDTelevision

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    Thailand's "red shirt" protesters mark the anniversary of a 10-week protest that ended in clashes, rioting and arson last year. They demand the release of more than 100 demonstrators that are held in jail.

    At least 20,000 "red shirt" protesters gathered in Bangkok on Saturday. The occasion marks the anniversary of a 10-week rally that plunged Thailand into prolonged violence and political chaos last year.

    The protest was one of the biggest since clashes between troops and demonstrators in April and May that killed 91 people, and wounded more than 1,800.

    The red shirts say justice and democracy remain elusive in Thailand. They're also demanding the release of more than 100 demonstrators held in jails across the country, and a transparent investigation into the deaths of protesters.

    [Weng Tojirakarn, Protest Leader]:
    "Our goal is to make real democracy in the country. We oppose everything that stops the country from being a democracy. There are two main obstacles: one is when people were killed on the streets by heavy weapons. So we have to find those who ordered the killing and punish them."

    The red shirts say they will continue their regular rallies despite Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's announcement on Friday that an election would be held by the first week of July, after parliamentary dissolution in early May.

    Police estimate at least 22,000 people joined the rally by early evening.

    More are expected to arrive later to mark the beginning of a protest last year that shut down swathes of Bangkok's commercial heart and drew 150,000 people at its peak.