News / Asia

Anti-government Protesters Camp in Bangkok

Anti-government Protesters Camp in Downtown Bangkoki
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January 14, 2014
Anti-government protesters gathered by the thousands for the second day in Thailand's capital, Bangkok, as part of their plan to shut down the city and force the prime minister from office. So far the latest gatherings have remained peaceful. Gabrielle Paluch reports from temporary tent-villages in the heart of the capital.
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Gabrielle Paluch
— Anti-government protesters gathered by the thousands for a second day in Thailand's capital, Bangkok, as part of their plan to shut down the city and oust current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
 
Thousands of protesters slept overnight at the seven main camps throughout the city before embarking on marches to government ministries that they demanded be shut down.
 
While many of the demonstrators are from Bangkok, others traveled far for what they say could be a protracted standoff with the government.
 
Protester Kamporn Saengravi drove more than 700 kilometers from southern Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, parking his van in Bangkok's Lumphini Park and sleeping in a tent alongside three neighbors who accompanied him.

  • Anti-government protesters march during a rally in Bangkok, Jan. 15, 2014.
  • An anti-government protester wears a mask during a rally in central Bangkok, Jan. 15, 2014.
  • Soldiers stand guard inside the Thai Defense Ministry in Bangkok, Jan. 15, 2014.
  • Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban addresses anti-government protesters occupying a major intersection in central Bangkok, Jan. 14, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters with national flags gather for a rally in Bangkok, Jan. 14, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters with national flags gather for a rally at Asok intersection in Bangkok, Jan. 14, 2014.
  • Anti-government protestors participate in a sit-in outside the Royal Thai Police headquarters in Bangkok, Jan. 14, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters gather outside the Central World mall in the shopping district in central Bangkok, Jan. 13, 2014.
  • An anti-government protester stands behind a barricade in a major intersection in central Bangkok, Jan. 13, 2014.

Kamporn said now that he has come, he will not go back. He will sleep on the street and eat on the street. He said that even though he is more comfortable at home he's happy to be here to fight for his country's future.
 
Protest leader Suthep Thuagsuban, who rejects the government's offer to hold snap elections, addressed crowds on a stage Tuesday, demanding the caretaker prime minister's resignation and warning ministers they should evacuate their children.
 
Suthep said that in two to three days, protesters will close all of the government offices. He further warned that if the government remained steadfast, the protesters would detain the prime minister and other ministers.
 
The prime minister has already dissolved the government and called for snap elections early next month, but protest leaders, joined by the opposition Democrat Party, are boycotting the vote.
 
Political Developments in Thailand

2006: Army overthrows Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
2007: The pro-Thaksin People Power Party wins elections
2008: Anti-Thaksin protesters, known as "Yellow Shirts", stage months of demonstrations and briefly paralyze airports. Abhisit Vejjajiva becomes prime minister.
2010: Massive pro-Thaksin "Red Shirt" protests are held in Bangkok, dozens are killed
2011: Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of Thaksin, elected prime minister
2013: Anti-government protesters hold massive demonstrations, Ms. Yingluck calls new elections
2014: Protesters camp in Bangkok to shut down the city
While the prime minister refuses to step down, she has also said she is eager to end the standoff. She spoke with reporters Tuesday and again said she is open to negotiations.
 
Yingluck said she is asking for cooperation and requests all sides to take part in reforms. Whatever needs to be reformed or fixed, she said, including getting rid of corrupted politicians, is on the table. However, she also said her opponents' current actions are keeping the country at a standstill.
 
The protests began late last year when the lower house of parliament approved an amnesty bill that would have paved the way for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, to return from self-exile in Dubai without serving jail time for a 2008 corruption conviction.
 
The Senate defeated the measure, but that did little to appease protesters, who want to expel the Shinawatra family from politics. 
 
Leader Suthep also wants to replace the democratically elected government with a council that he and his allies would appoint. This council would then carry out political reforms prior to holding new elections. The government has rejected that proposal, which many observers said would be a step backward for Thailand’s democracy.

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