Thousands of anti-government protesters in Thailand clad in red shirts who are seeking the end of five years of military rule, gathered near Democracy Monument in Bangkok on Sunday on the first anniversary since violent clashes with Thai security forces.
Reports of people gathered varied from 10,000 to 75,000. Police officials said there were about 3,300 police officers deployed during the demonstration, according to Channel News Asia.
The protesters, known as 'red shirts' were at the same location where in April 10, 2010, Thai security forces attempted to clear a rally site, resulting in the deaths of various protesters, among them journalists. Security personnel also died.
The long standoff with the government eventually claimed 91 lives and wounded over 1,800 people, although it did not topple the government. Twenty six people died on the initial day of clashes.
Elections are set to be held later this year. The protests eventually ended after troops in armored vehicles dispersed protesters.
The red-shirted demonstrators are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He was convicted of graft and ousted in a 2006 coup. He currently lives abroad. Protesters say current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva came into power undemocratically.
One year ago, there should not have been any deaths from calls for democracy, Shinawatra said during a 15-minute speech via a video-link, according to Channel News Asia.
They will not die for nothing, they will not be wounded for nothing. I will do my best to support the people who came out for democracy.
Among the dead was Reuters photographer Hiro Muramoto, a Japanese national. His shooting during the protests galvanized additional international attention on the protests.
A police official told Reuters that protesters were allowed to gather as long as it was within the law and did not infring on others' rights.