White-masked protestors bring V for Thailand to Pattaya

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About 200 anti-government protesters – many wearing white masks – converge on the Tesco-Lotus North Pattaya branch.  The group’s Facebook page says it represents “people power” urging peaceful opposition to “parliamentary monopoly and corruption.”

About 200 anti-government protesters – many wearing white masks – converged on Tesco-Lotus’ North Pattaya branch, mirroring a larger rally in Bangkok that opened a new chapter in the kingdom’s long-running saga of political unrest.

The demonstration by the “V for Thailand” movement – an enigmatic protest group spawned over social media whose supporters wear the “Guy Fawkes” mask of comic book hero “V” – was the first in Pattaya and fourth this month in Bangkok.

About 200 anti-government protesters - many wearing white masks - converge on the Tesco-Lotus North Pattaya branch.  The group’s Facebook page says it represents “people power” urging peaceful opposition to “parliamentary monopoly and corruption.”  About 200 anti-government protesters – many wearing white masks – converge on the Tesco-Lotus North Pattaya branch.  The group’s Facebook page says it represents “people power” urging peaceful opposition to “parliamentary monopoly and corruption.”

Former Democratic Party Chonburi MP Potnarot Kaewpluk led the local rally against the ruling Pheu Thai Party and Thaksin Shinawatra. The party’s ties to the deposed prime minister and the Pheu Thai-aligned “red shirts,” or United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, drew scorn from the stage.

The red shirts, led by Pattaya-area leader Jureeporn Sinthuphrai, counted the white-mask rally, assembling 500 protestors from Chonburi and Bangkok to shout down their white-masked counterparts with loudspeakers mounted on cars.

Some red shirted followers of the UDD wore their own masks, whilst others shouted down the “V for Thailand” across the street.Some red shirted followers of the UDD wore their own masks, whilst others shouted down the “V for Thailand” across the street.

A garrison of 500 Region 2, Banglamung and Pattaya police and volunteers kept the peace. No serious incidents were reported. Jureeporn said she demanded that the red shirts – responsible for deadly Bangkok riots in 2010 and 2011 – remain peaceful.

Potnarok said she attended the rally not as an anonymous, masked protestor, but as “a patriot and a democrat” who wanted to express her resistance toward a political system masterminded by Thaksin – the brother of current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra – and said the V protestors would assemble at the mall at 6 p.m. daily.

While the “yellow shirt” movement, backed by Thailand’s elite and military establishment, has formed the most-prominent opposition to Pheu Thai, several other protest groups have sprung up in recent months protesting against the government of Yingluck and the influence of her brother, who is seeking a return to the kingdom but faces jail over corruption.

Little is known about the leaders or political allegiances of V for Thailand, but the group has swiftly developed a major social-media profile. The group’s Facebook page says it represents “people power” urging peaceful opposition to “parliamentary monopoly and corruption.”

In a film version of the comic strip called ‘V for Vendetta’, white masks are distributed to encourage people to rise against a fictional dictator.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.