50,000 anti-government protesters began a takeover of major intersections in the capital city of Bangkok on Monday as part of a protest event dubbed 'Bangkok Shutdown.'
Organized by the People's Democratic Reform Committee, the shutdown event is the latest protest effort aimed at forcing Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign.
The protesters gathered in Bangkok's central commercial district Monday, disrupting traffic. Thai businessman Uracha Trairat, who joined the shutdown rally, explained to the New York Times, "We need to shut the capital to tell people that this government has lost its legitimacy... The government is now destroying itself.”
Although demonstrators were mostly peaceful throughout Monday, the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order warned of possible violence as the shutdown rally is expected to continue for another four or five days.
CAPO spokesman Police Major General Piya Uthayo referenced several violent incidents on Sunday that involved gunshots at a Democrat Party headquarters building and a hand grenade being hung on the fence outside the home of a PDRC leader. "The incidents last night are a signal of possible escalating violence, therefore we appeal to the public to help monitor [incidents] and alert police. The police will try to ensure peace and order are maintained during the protest rally."
Anti-government protests, led by the opposition Democrat Party, have been ongoing since November. Protestors are calling for the removal of the prime minister, whom they accuse of acting on behalf of her brother, ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
[New York Times] [Bangkok Post]