Red-shirt leaders have warned their members that aggressive movement to free Jatuporn Promphan and Nisit Sinthuprai from jail might jeopardise the July election, which offers a major hope for the group to restore national reconciliation.
"May I convey the message to our members in the entire country that we should not do anything the opponent could use as a pretext to destroy the election," said red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikua.
"It was Jatuporn's will to see the election. Such a good intention should not be undermined. The red shirts should support the election," he said. "We must do our best to have a free and fair election."
Jatuporn and Nisit were jailed on Thursday after their bail on the terrorism charges was revoked by the court over their participation in a street protest on April 10 to commemorate the anniversary of the bloody incidents last year.
Many red shirts have protested strongly against the authorities' jailing of the pair. Jatuporn and Nisit were to be candidates for the opposition Pheu Thai Party in the coming election.
Nattawut said it was a miscalculation to put Jatuporn in jail to spoil the red-shirt movement. The action, on the contrary, would stimulate the movement to become stronger, he said.
RALLY GOING AHEAD
Thida Thawornseth, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship, said the red shirts would call a rally on May 19 next Thursday to commemorate the anniversary of the bloody events last May at Ratchaprasong Intersection as planned.
The group will make merit to 92 Buddhist monks to recall the deaths of people during the military crackdown last year.
"We will arrange the rally the same as we did last year in the same location to commemorate the incident," she said. "The stage, the scene and the platform for the rally on that day will be exactly the same as last year.
"It will be a huge, peaceful rally to support democracy," Thida said.
The case of Jatuporn and Nisit will not discourage the red shirts, she said. "Those who were born to be the red people should be tolerant. We will convert our pain over the Jatuporn case into our power."
The red shirts will help monitor the election to ensure that it is transparent, free and fair to prevent "powers outside the system" abusing or destroying the election, she said.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva warned the red shirts not to do anything against the law. Jatuporn and Nisit were jailed in the line of law and order, he said.
But Abhisit said he expected that the red shirts' rally next week would not affect the election process, although May 19 is the day for parties to submit their lists of candidates. The rally will be in the afternoon after the lists have been submitted, he said.