News / Asia

Thai PM Announces Emergency Powers Ahead of Protest

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (File Photo - September 15, 2011)Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (File Photo - September 15, 2011)
x
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (File Photo - September 15, 2011)
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (File Photo - September 15, 2011)
Ron Corben
The Thai Government has announced emergency powers ahead of a major anti-government protest rally in Bangkok on Saturday. The government fears violence could erupt at the protest, which police estimate could reach more than 70,000 people, the largest since 2010.

In a nationally televised address late Thursday Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the cabinet decision to impose the Internal Security Act or ISA against the anti-government rally is prompted by fears of violence at the protests.

Yingluck said while the government is ready to listen to protesters, authorities had evidence that violence may be used to overthrow the administration and democratic rule. She said the government would “preserve law and order,” taking steps to “pre-empt and prevent any situation”.

The Internal Security Act, passed in 2008, gives a government powers to impose a curfew, censor electronic media and communications as well as prevent the movement of people and make arrests.

The government has mobilized thousands of police and other security officials, including from provincial areas, to oversee the rally

But a spokesman for the protest group, known as Pitak Siam, accused the government of corruption and denied official fears the rally would instigate violence.

The rally, the second by Pitak Siam, is led by a retired army general, who expects attendance to reach 100,000. Lawyers for general, Boonlert Kaewprasit, also denied earlier reported comments he wanted to see the military take power.

But Sunai Pasuk, a spokesman for the New York based Human Rights Watch, says Pitak Siam appears to be against electoral democracy, a theme raised in Prime Minister Yingluck’s address.

“Pitak Siam clearly has a platform that is anti-electoral democracy; it is against having elected politicians representing people in the parliament, the platform is clear," said Sunai. "The government is now expanding that platform and Yingluck made it very clear in her speech that Pitak Siam is a threat to national security and a threat to public safety.”

The rally could be the largest since 2010 when supporters of Yingluck’s older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a 2006 coup amidst corruption charges and who still remains in exile, rallied in a bid to force the government of Abhisit Vejjajiva to resign.  

The six weeks of anti-government protests in 2010 led to bloody clashes with security forces after offers by Abhisit for early elections were turned down by pro-Thaksin supporters. Over 90 people, both protesters and security forces, died and hundreds were injured.  

Thaksin remains a powerful influence in Thai politics and a key decision maker behind his sister Yingluck.

Sunai says despite Yingluck’s strong electoral base, especially among the rural and urban working class, the Thai political climate remains brittle.

“The political situation in Thailand remains very volatile given the fact that political violence in the past has been allowed to go with impunity," said Sunai. "There has been no prosecution of anyone committing political violence from all sides. There is a climate of impunity shared among leaders and supporters of all political movements in Thailand.”   

The rally comes just ahead of a parliamentary no-confidence debate in which the opposition is set to raise charges of corruption against the Yingluck administration.

Analysts say the political tensions mark an on-going struggle between established elites, bureaucrats and businessmen up against rising new capitalists who became more politically empowered during Thaksin Shinawatra's rule.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More