News / Asia

Thai PM Seeks Reconciliation Despite Threat of More Protests

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks at a news conference after a cabinet meeting at an Air Force base in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 25, 2013.Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks at a news conference after a cabinet meeting at an Air Force base in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 25, 2013.
x
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks at a news conference after a cabinet meeting at an Air Force base in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 25, 2013.
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra speaks at a news conference after a cabinet meeting at an Air Force base in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 25, 2013.
Reuters
Embattled Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra called for reconciliation on Tuesday as the streets of the capital, Bangkok, emptied ahead of New Year celebrations, a rare period of calm after weeks of unrest.
 
Anti-government protesters have vowed to disrupt a Feb. 2 election called by Yingluck in a bid to settle a crisis that has pitted her government against Bangkok's conservative elite and middle class.
 
The demonstrators have threatened to shut down Bangkok after the New Year, with plans to block roads in up to 20 places, although the scope of their protests has not always matched the promises made by their leader, Suthep Thaugsuban.
 
Yingluck has not been in Bangkok for more than a week, spending time among supporters in the north, but she used social media to send a message seeking peace and reconciliation.
 
“On the occasion of New Year 2014, may I ask all Thais to be united in mind, to seek a blessing for the Thai people to love and harmonize and for those who differ in views, be it their political ideology or belief, to reconcile for a peaceful resolution for our nation,” she said in a Facebook post.
 
An anti-government protester walks past pictures taken during clashes with riot policemen, during a rally outside the Government House in Bangkok December 29, 2013.An anti-government protester walks past pictures taken during clashes with riot policemen, during a rally outside the Government House in Bangkok December 29, 2013.
x
An anti-government protester walks past pictures taken during clashes with riot policemen, during a rally outside the Government House in Bangkok December 29, 2013.
An anti-government protester walks past pictures taken during clashes with riot policemen, during a rally outside the Government House in Bangkok December 29, 2013.
The demonstrators are determined to topple Yingluck, who they see as a puppet of her self-exiled brother and former premier, Thaksin Shinawatra.
 
Bangkok's normally gridlocked streets were mostly clear on Tuesday as people headed to the provinces for the holiday.
 
The latest protests have flared into violence at several protest sites over the past five days. At least eight people have been killed since they began in late November.
 
On Thursday, a policeman and a protester were killed when an unidentified gunman fired during chaotic clashes outside an election registration center.
 
Another protester was killed by an unidentified gunman at another rally site in a pre-dawn attack on Saturday. The Erawan Emergency Centre in Bangkok said another protester had been taken to hospital suffering gunshot wounds to the chest and arm after a shooting at a third site late on Monday.
 
Worry about military intervention
 
The violence is the latest in years of rivalry between Bangkok's middle class and royalist establishment and the mostly poor, rural supporters of Yingluck and Thaksin.
 
Even though her Puea Thai Party would most likely win the election, Yingluck's position has become more tenuous as the conflict drags on, with street violence opening the possibility of intervention by the politicized military or judiciary.
 
That became increasingly apparent last week, when the army chief declined to rule out a coup. Thailand's military has launched or attempted 18 coups in 81 years of fragile democracy, including Thaksin's 2006 overthrow.
 
The military has since sought to ease fears that yet another coup was imminent.
 
Riot policemen walk around during a registration of election candidates at a bus terminal centre near the Government complex in Bangkok, Dec. 28, 2013.Riot policemen walk around during a registration of election candidates at a bus terminal centre near the Government complex in Bangkok, Dec. 28, 2013.
x
Riot policemen walk around during a registration of election candidates at a bus terminal centre near the Government complex in Bangkok, Dec. 28, 2013.
Riot policemen walk around during a registration of election candidates at a bus terminal centre near the Government complex in Bangkok, Dec. 28, 2013.
Most of the protests have been centered in Bangkok, although demonstrators have also blocked registration for the polls in seven provinces in the south. The protesters and the main opposition Democrat Party, which has declared it will boycott the poll, have many supporters in the south.
 
The protesters say the wealthy Shinawatra family has effectively manipulated Thailand's democracy by buying the support of the rural poor with populist policies such as cheap healthcare and subsidies for rice farmers.
 
Former telecoms tycoon Thaksin and his allies have won every election since 2001. He fled into exile in 2008 before being sentenced to jail on graft charges he said were politically motivated.
 
Yingluck's party miscalculated badly in November when it tried to force through an amnesty that would have allowed Thaksin to return a free man, sparking the latest round of protests.

You May Like

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Crowdfunding Helps Save Neil Armstrong's Spacesuit

Smithsonian turns to Kickstarter to raise more than $700,000 to help preserve the spacesuit worn by the first man to walk on the moon More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs