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Sombat, reds stage 'flash protest'

Some 50 red shirts converged at Rajprasong intersection late yesterday [11 July] afternoon in defiance of the emergency decree and created a small commotion - repeatedly shouting "People have been killed here!" and "The military shot people!"

An equal number of police kept a close watch on the rally, however no-one was arrested.

The group, led by prominent red shirt Sombat Boon-ngam-anong, 42, who was released after being detained for two weeks under the decree on Friday, said people needed to remember that the site was historic and that those behind the killings had not faced justice yet.


"Although the truth is not out there yet, those left behind must keep on pursuing it," Sombat told the crowd and many reporters who went there.

Sombat, who has become more famous after his detention led to many media reports, urged red shirts to come out and tie red ribbons to memorialise the incidents which led to some 90 people on both sides being killed.

"Truth will bring about reconciliation and peace, but this won't be achieved as long as injustice persists," he added. "If I am arrested, may those who believe in peaceful struggle openly carry on with their fight."

Sombat told The Nation earlier that being detained was a way to carry on the fight. "I think what [the government] is most afraid of is that the people will scrutinise them," he said, claiming that the emergency decree had been extended in order to silence red shirts.

"But this law is unjust," he said. "It violates constitutional rights as well as basic rights. Since we want to insist on our constitutional rights, we must challenge it."

Matichon Weekender News Magazine, the Kingdom's widest circulated weekly news magazine, put Sombat's picture on its front page on Friday, making him a cause celebre overnight, and some red shirts asked to have their pictures taken with him.

Three people played dead during the "flash protest", covering part of their bodies with red paint and lying down on the corner just outside Gaysorn Plaza.

One police officer, asked by a video journalist whether the action was lawful or not, replied that it contravened the emergency decree.

When asked if citizens had a right as human beings to express themselves politically or not, the officer looked evasive on camera and said: "Let me not answer that question."

Stickers were also attached to a CCTV pole with messages like: "I hate Abhisit", "Shut Up or Die" and more.

People watching on a nearby pedestrian overpass shouted and waved in support of the red shirt group.