Sunderland teacher caught up in Thailand protests

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A WEARSIDE teacher today told how he has been caught up in rising political tensions in Thailand’s capital Bangkok.

Protesters vowing to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra have taken to the streets for the last four days, raising fears of fresh political violence.

Forty-four-year-old David Allan has been teaching at a school in the city for the last 17 months, but staff and pupils have been sent home after trouble erupted at the beginning of the week.

“My school has just been closed again until Monday,” he said.

“The protest marched past our school, which prompted the quick action of sending the students home early and notifying parents of the closure.

“We have been told to stay away from most areas, which makes you feel very nervous. Some teachers that have been here years have a bag packed and are ready to leave the city.”

On the surface, life is going on as normal but David, from Castletown, has sensed a change.

“My Thai colleagues are in support of the protests and the business side of the city, restaurants, cinemas seem to go on without effect,” he said.

“Most tourists seem undeterred and think it’s all very amusing, but over the weeks I have seen a marked change and they are stepping things up.

“The next few days will tell us what will happen.

“Things will calm down for the king’s birthday next week.”

The civil unrest pits supporters of Ms Shinawatra and her deposed older brother – and former owner of Manchester City – Taksin against those of Suthep Thaugsuban, who resigned as an opposition politician to lead the demonstrations.

Pro-Thaksin parties have won every election since 2001, and Mr Thaugsuban’s Democrats were crushed by Ms Yingluck’s ruling party in a landslide vote that swept her to power in 2011.

The anti-government movement is strongest in Bangkok and the south, while Thaksin supporters mainly come from the country’s rural areas.