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Thai mom: 'I want to die' for Red Shirt cause

By Sara Sidner, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Protester in Bangkok says she will die for cause her children do not understand
  • Government estimates 5,000 protesters still occupying city streets, down from 20,000
  • Those left seem to have most resolve in keeping protest alive

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- She calls herself "Aim." She is 43 years old and has two children, one a teenager, the other seven years old. She has a smile on her face even though she is sitting outside in air so thick with humidity and heat that it's hard to breathe.

She seems like a regular working mom until you ask her about the government's announcement it was about to crack down and move the Red Shirt protesters out of the swanky area they have occupied for more than five weeks in Bangkok.

"If they do I would like them to kill me. I am not afraid." Aim said. "I want to die."

She will die for a cause her children do not understand, she said. "We want democracy, I support Thaksin." Aim said referring to Thailand's former prime minister who fled the country after a bloodless coup. He is wanted on corruption charges. Most of the Red Shirt protesters are his supporters and don't believe the charges are true.

Video: Thai residents living in chaos
Video: Life inside the Thai live fire zone

Thousands of them like Aim sit in front of or near the main stage area where the anti-government protestors have rallied for weeks listening to deafening speeches blaring from the huge speakers put up on the column supports of the overpass.

The government now estimates there are 5,000 protesters still occupying city streets, down from an estimated 20,000. Those left seem to have the most resolve in keeping the protest alive.

iReport: Are you there? Send your images, video

Down the street a ways another mother sits with her 9-year-old daughter. Her name is Ananya Thongyoi. She says she came to the protest because she wants justice.

"Thailand has double standards. I love Thaksin he has done good for the poor people." The Red Shirts essentially see the current government as elitist and not looking out for the interest of the rural poor and working class people.

iReport: Tending to a sniper wound

But what about the safety of her daughter, named Pim? More than 30 people have been killed in the violence in just the past four days. Both the Thai military and the protesters have engaged in deadly behavior.

"I am afraid of her getting hurt so that is why I moved her to the Temple area."

What are the protests about?

The Temple grounds are supposed to be a safe haven. Other families with much younger children and elderly parents sit on the temple grounds eating lunch while their children play, some with coloring books, others with small toys.

Pim is sitting and happily chatting with her grandmother. She would normally be in school, but the government said it was forced to postpone school for a week because of the violent clashes.

iReport: Video sparks discussion

Like many children around the world Pim doesn't mind an extra week of holiday. Surrounded by the protests, the innocence of a child is clearly intact.

"I am having fun. I can hear music. It is better than staying home."

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'Not the Thailand we know anymore'
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Thai military cracks down on protesters
Bangkok turned into a war zone Wednesday after a tense standoff ended with the army's show of force
Rich-poor divide underpins Thai crisis
A rift between Bangkok's economic elite and the growing clout of Thailand's rural poor is feeding a unique political divide
Thaksin: I am not Red Shirt leader
Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said he was not the leader of the Red Shirts
Explainer: Thailand's political crisis
The crisis follows a standoff between the government and protesters who support Thaksin Shinawatra
Timeline: Thailand's political crisis
The violent clashes in Bangkok follows years of political instability and unrest in Thailand.
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