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Who's Who In Thailand's Political Crisis

Political upheaval in Thailand has pitted Bangkok\'s urban elites against the country\'s rural poor.
Posted at 10:43 AM, Dec 02, 2013

Today, the streets of Bangkok resemble a war zone more than anything. 

 — with anti-government protests growing increasingly violent. (Via Channel 4

So, what changed, and who's who in the upheaval? To understand Thailand’s deepening political crisis, we’ll start first with Thaksin Shinawatra.

He’s the country’s former Prime Minister — overthrown in a military coup seven years ago. Convicted of corruption, the billionaire now lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai. But he remains a key figure in Thai politics. (Via Arirang Korean

That’s because his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, followed in his footsteps. Critics say Thailand’s first female prime minister is merely a puppet for her unpopular brother. 

The Wall Street Journal notes in a 2011 interview Thaksin called Yingluck "his 'clone' who can make decisions on his behalf."

And while she hasn't strayed far from her brother's populist policies, Thailand has remained relatively stable since her election. 

That is, until she put her name on an amnesty bill that would have allowed her brother to return from exile without going to jail for that corruption conviction. (Via BBC)

Which brings us to the pro-monarchy Democrat Party — their protest movement was triggered, at least in part, by that failed amnesty bill. 

Otherwise known as the Yellow Shirts, they're demanding Yingluck resign and dissolve the parliament — something she’s refused to do. (Via Deutsche Welle)

They’ve called for Yingluck’s government to be replaced by an unelected council which would pick a new prime minister and cabinet. (Via Financial Times

Sounding that call the loudest is Suthep Thaugsuban. He's a Thai politician and leader of the protest movement. He met with Yingluck in person on Sunday, and reportedly gave her a 48-hour ultimatum to resign. (Via Wikimedia Commons / thai gov, World Economic Forum)

His followers call their protest movement a “People’s Revolution” — though Time’s Charlie Campbell says it’s anything but, writing “demanding the establishment of royalist councils is hardly a people’s revolution.”

There’s another color to know here, and that's red. The pro-government Red Shirts support the Yingluck administration.

They represent Thailand’s rural poor— as opposed to the Yellow Shirts which consist of Bangkok’s urban middle and upper class. (Via NTDTV)

Despite a pledge not to use violence against the protesters, Thai police fired tear gas and water cannons over the weekend during a city-wide protest involving some 30,000 people. Four people are said to have died and more than 100 were injured.  (Via ITN)

The protests have forced Yingluck to flee a police compound in Bangkok. Her security team has moved her to an undisclosed location.