Thai 'red shirts' on Sunday recalled their deadly clashes with government security forces on April 10, 2010 even as the country looks forward to elections in May, five years after a military putsch ousted still influential former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
A rally at the Democracy Monument in central Bangkok brought out tens of thousands of protesters, with peaceful scenes looking much like last year's early protests.
The 91 deaths should not have occurred in Thailand. During the course of fighting for democracy, nobody should die, either protesters or soldiers, said Jatuporn Prompan, a Red Shirt leader, according to the Associated Press. On this one-year anniversary, the military should know what they are doing. They should stop intervening in the democratic process.
The Red Shirts movement - officially titled the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship -remains strong, according to the International Crisis Group, a non-profit think tank.
Despite government efforts to suppress the Red Shirt movement, support remains strong and the deep political divide has not gone away, the group said in a report released on Monday.
Meanwhile the Yellow Shirts which represent the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) is supporting the elite establishment, which includes the monarchy, the military and the judiciary.
PAD has previously opposed efforts by former PM Thaksin Shinawatra to exert his influence and it is now opposing current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. The group is opposing the upcoming elections envisions that Thailand's King will appoint a virtuous leader who will clean up politics, the ICG says.
The Pheu Thai Party will be the beneficiary of the Red Shirts' efforts in the upcoming elections.
Current Prime Minister Vejjajiva has said he will dissolve parliament in the first week of May after moving to change laws related to the election.
Thaksin is still popular with much of the electorate and there is a strong possibility that his de facto Pheu Thai Party could emerge as the largest party, in the upcoming elections ICG said.
This conflict has been going on for five years and many people have suffered mentally and physically, the former Prime Minister told The Wall Street Journal in an interview in a villa in Dubai published on April 8. We should start all over again to help the country prosper.