BANGKOK, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- At least 30,000 "Red Shirt" opponents of the Thai government rallied in Bangkok Sunday in their biggest outpouring in months, police said.
The demonstrators, in their trademark red clothes, halted traffic in parts of the city as they marched to the upscale Ratchaprasong shopping district, demanding the release of their jailed leaders, the Bangkok Post reported.
A security force of 1,000 was on hand for the Red Shirts' first Bangkok rally since emergency rule was lifted there last month.
Their leader, exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, addressed the crowd by phone from "a plane flying over Europe."
"I admire you for having strong hearts for democracy," he said. "The government's meaning of reconciliation is to chase up people who they can arrest, so that that the Reds will be no more."
The Red Shirts pledge to demonstrate twice a month in Bangkok to secure the release of leaders who were jailed after the bloody suppression of their protest last spring.
"I'm doing my best to call for the release of people jailed and to remember those who lost their lives," said legislator Jatuporn Prompan, one of the senior Red Shirts facing terrorism charges, who is free on bail.