Exclusive: European Red Shirts Rally in Hamburg, Thaksin Phones In

NOTE: The author is NOT affiliated with the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and it's affiliated supporter groups or any other political group of any kind.

Around 120 Thai anti-government protesters from various European countries have gathered on Saturday in the German city of Hamburg to commemorate the forth-year anniversary of the military coup in Thailand and the four-month anniversary of the military crackdown against anti-government protesters in Bangkok.

The participants in this political protest, coming from Germany, France, Denmark and Belgium, are sympathizers of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), also known as "red shirts", a political pressure group demanding the current Thai government to step down and call for new elections, justice for the 91 victims during the anti-government protests earlier this year among other various demands. Many of them are supporters of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been toppled in said coup in 2006.

The atmosphere was largely jubilant, even though short bursts of the typical Northern German rain showers have interrupted the rally for a short period of time. Over amplifiers the protesters have made their stance over the current Thai political situation. Despite some announcements in German, most contributions over the loudspeakers were made in Thai, leaving many Hamburg onlookers asking what this event was all about.

Part of the rally was a phone-in by Thaksin, who thanked all European red shirts for the support and was overall in a conciliatory tone. He said that misunderstanding has to led conflicts and divisions among Thai people. "Today I think all sides should stop looking after themselves and look forward, no matter if they were wrong or not, and move towards each other", he said, "Bring back unity, bring back joy to the Thai people and let's make our country stronger." He continued: "The four months [since the protests' end in May] where people have killed each other, the four years [since the coup] where people made each other's lives difficult - they should come to an end." Thaksin further states that "today should be a day where we think about the mistakes made in the past and we should resolve them."

When asked by the supporters what he thinks about reconciliation he answered: "Reconciliation means to approach each other [...] and help together to move the country forward. No more yellow, no more red! But all things that were done wrong should face justice. [...] Also, there should be elections so that the people can vote their own government." Thaksin also claimed that the current political situation in Thailand "can't sustain itself for much longer." Thaksin's phone-in was cut short after nearly 11 minutes when the power generator ran out of fuel.

[audio http://dl.dropbox.com/u/531991/Thaksin-PhoneIn.mp3]

Listen to the full recording of Thaksin's phone-in here (MP3)