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Thailand: Bangkok blood curse

In a fit of class rage, Thais paint government offices in their own blood.

In an attempt to drive out Thailand's ruling party, protesters Wednesday splashed government offices with human blood collected during an all-day needle drive. Roughly 100,000 followers of an anti-establishment movement known as the "Red Shirts" have gathered in Bangkok amid heavy deployments of soldiers and police. (Patrick Winn/GlobalPost)

BANGKOK, Thailand — Behind a wall of stone-faced soldiers, the crowd howled outside the gates of the Thai premier’s compound.

“We will curse them, the aristocrats, the powerful people,” screamed Nattawut Saikua, a leader of a That anti-establishment street faction known as the Red Shirts.

“We will curse them with our own blood!”

And with that, men balancing jugs of human blood on their heads hustled through the sweaty throng and into the compound. Troops in riot gear allowed several blood porters to reach the ornate front gate, and moments later, it was splashed with gallons of coagulated gore.

This was the crescendo to a long-awaited reckoning promised by the Red Shirts, whose anti-government crusade has become a conduit for class frustration.

For five days, more than 100,000 followers of the largely upcountry, working-class movement have rallied in Bangkok. They intend to drive out a ruling party that they claim caters to “aristocrats” and enforces “double standards” against the poor.

As expected, Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has not conceded to the Red Shirts’ calls for new elections. His party has instead deployed thousands of police and soldiers throughout the Thai capital.

To up the pressure, the Red Shirts have resorted to theater of the macabre.

On the evening preceding the blood curse, faction leaders requested 10 cubic centimeters of blood drawn from every healthy supporter. Their aim: 1 million cubic centimeters. The Thai Red Cross has objected, claiming that amount could save many lives.

But as dawn broke on Wednesday, the Red Shirts began an all-day needle drive that would instead donate blood to symbolic political targets.

To a soundtrack of soul-stirring Thai country music, Red Shirt leaders held syringes aloft for their faithful to see, shouting into microphones that “rule of the elites” would soon collapse. Each syringe was emptied into a plastic jug, swished around before a cheering crowd until it frothed pink at the sides.

“We’re not here to have fun or joke around. We’re not being caustic,” announced Veera Musikapong, an elder statesman of the Red Shirts. “We’re serious. And we shall take our blood, spilling it, spreading it into the soil beneath the prime minister’s compound gate!”

This blood curse can be traced back to Thailand’s 2006 military coup, the origin of the anti-elite faction’s outrage. That putsch deposed ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, an idol to many poor Thais despite his billions earned from telecom ventures.