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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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