Blue Shirts (Thailand)

Country: Thailand
Details of Formation: Sources indicate that Newin Chidchob, a former loyalist of Thaksin Shinawatra and founder of the Bhumjaithai Party, was the initiator of the Blue Shirts. He was the leader of the Bhumjaithai Party, which was the coalition partner of the Democrat Party and ruling prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. Other evidence indicates that the group emerged under the auspices of the Interior Ministry and run by Chaovarat Chanweerakul, the Bhumjaithai party leader. The first activities of the PGM are reported in March 2009 and the group is opposed to Thaksin Shinawatra and his supporters, the Red Shirts.
Details of Termination: On 5 August 2011, Yingluck Shinawatra took office as the prime minister of Thailand after winning the election against the Democrat Party and Bhumjaithai Party, coded as the end of the group as a pro-government militia.
Purpose: The purpose of the group was to counter the Red Shirts in protests in 2009 and to protect public figures and places from the red shirts. According to a statement of the deputy premier this was part of a larger goal to promote peace and create an image of unity. One report quotes a source saying that the group was supposed to keep the peace. Other sources state that the government wanted the group to start conflict with Red Shirts in 2009 protests, spread unrest and give the military a pretext to take over the government. It was used to intimidate the opposition with violence.
Organisation: According to news sources the group was commanded by the Ministry of Interior.
Weapons and Training: While there is no information available on the group’s training, they are reported to be armed with sticks, iron rods, steel pipes, clubs, wooden planks and rocks.
Size: --
Reason for Membership: --
Treatment of Civilians: The group contributed to an escalation of protests in 2009 and fought Red Shirts, e.g. by throwing stones at them. Security forces did not stop this behaviour when they were present.
Other Information: The Blue Shirts are opposed to the Red Shirts, the supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. In 2009, the two groups clashed in protests. Compared to similar groups like the Yellow or Red Shirts, the Blue Shirts appear to be more like thugs.
References: Wikipedia. “2009 Thai political unrest.”

Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD.