Thaksin Shinawatra’s visit to Los Angeles has been disrupted by transnational yellow shirts and a few wearing the alternate royalist color, pink. A report in the Bangkok Post says that Thaksin cancelled after after some 2,000 royalists gathered along the roads at the venue to prevent him entering. Thaksin’s meeting with red shirt/UDD supporters was scheduled for Thaitown in LA on Sunday evening.
It seems they didn’t try to blockade LAX.
A later report in The Nation refers to a “rowdy” crowd. It adds that “Thai supporters of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) have staged protests in San Francisco, New York City and Houston, when he [Thaksin] visited red-shirt admirers.”
In that report, Suriyasai Katasila “coordinator of the Green Politics Group and a key figure in the yellow-shirt movement” is said to have “praised the protesters yesterday, saying they served not only to enact ‘social punishment’ on the wanted ex-leader but also to humiliate the US authorities for slighting their extradition treaty with Thailand.” He promised that more yellow shirts would engage in this “social punishment measures until Thaksin enters the judicial process.” He thanked the PAD supporters in the U.S. for “showing their power so that the world will know the truth…”.
Another Bangkok Post report adds that Suriyasai claims:
his group will lodge a petition with the National Anti-Corruption Commission this week against a number of individuals and agencies for dereliction of duty for failing to seek the extradition of Thaksin while in the US to stand trial in Thailand. On the list are Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, the Office of the Attorney General and police.
It is not new for there to be competing red and yellow shirts in the U.S. Both groups have strong followings there. Yellow shirt leader Sondhi Limthongkul spent considerable energy in developing PAD groups, particularly in LA. This was partly about selling some television and partly about fundraising for PAD.
Update 1: A reader tells us that Thaksin spoke at “a university in Los Angeles went without incident. … [T]he students and faculty heard him speak and then engaged in a lively discussion give and take which was informative for all involved.”
Update 2: The Nation reports that U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney has responded to the controversy whipped up by yellow shirts denouncing the United States for granting Thaksin a visa. If reported accurately, its a kind of non-answer that is likely to further incite the royalist ones. She reportedly said that “every year some 50,000 Thai citizens receive visas granted in strict compliance with existing laws and regulations.” Kenney added that the “US was honoured to have bilateral cooperation with Thailand on extradition and criminal assistance. She noted that the US had always responded to Thai government requests made under the two legal agreements, hinting that there had been no extradition request in Thaksin’s case.” That latter statement may encourage the Democrat Party and fellow yellow shirts to further legal action. Finally, she reportedly “ruled out any adverse implications, saying the visa granted to Thaksin was not a political issue.”
Update 3: The Nation reports that “Multi-coloured shirt group leader Tul Sithisomwong led some 25 protesters in a rally in front of the US Embassy to voice opposition to Thaksin being allowed to enter the US. Tul said he wanted an explanation for why the US allowed the fugitive Thaksin to enter despite signing an extradition treaty in 1990.” That’s twenty-five. Is Thaksin losing his drawing power for the yellow shirts? We realise that Tul has never had any and that his crowds were mostly rounded up by others.
Update 4: A reader sent us this video, made by the yellow shirts of their protest in LA. Seems more like a couple of hundred rather than 2,000: