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Thai protesters collect blood for message

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Thai protesters prepare blood
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Thousands of "red shirts" hold out forearms to give blood for message
  • Demonstrators threaten to to splash blood on ruling party headquarters, PM's residence
  • Protesters are supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- Anti-government protesters poured a small amount of blood at the headquarters of the government in Bangkok on Tuesday, but the demonstration did not live up to their threat to douse the ministers' offices in blood.

The protesters had launched a blood drive earlier to collect enough samples for the demonstration.

Thousands of "red shirts" -- so named for their clothing -- held out their forearms to allow their compatriots to draw blood.

The protesters intended to collect 1,000 liters (1 million cubic centimeters) and then throw the blood on the grounds of the Government House, which houses ministerial offices, at 6 p.m. (7 a.m. ET).

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If Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva still refuses to dissolve parliament, the demonstrators said they will collect another 1,000 liters of blood Wednesday and splash it on the headquarters of the ruling party.

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The next day, they will collect 1,000 more liters and target the prime minister's residence, the demonstrators said.

What are the protests about?

Abhisit has repeatedly said he will listen to the protesters but will not accede to their demands.

The anti-government demonstrations began Friday. By Sunday, tens of thousands of protesters had poured into the center of Bangkok.

The rallies have been largely peaceful. Abhisit has said his government will not use force to quell the demonstrations.

The nation's tourism minister estimated the demonstrations might have resulted in a 20 percent drop in tourists. The impact on Chinese visitors appears to have been greater, with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce reporting a 50 percent cancellation rate.

The protesters are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a bloodless military coup in 2006.

Thaksin was the only Thai prime minister to serve a full term and remains hugely popular.

He fled the country in 2008 while facing trial on corruption charges that he says were politically motivated.

The protesters say Abhisit was not democratically elected and have demanded that he call new elections.

Since Thaksin's ouster, Thailand has endured widespread political unrest that has pitted Thaksin loyalists against Abhisit supporters.

Two people were killed and at least 135 wounded in riots in April 2009 when protesters clashed with demonstrators supporting the government.

CNN's Kocha Olarn and Dan Rivers contributed to this report