News / Asia

Thai Opposition Protesters Snarl Bangkok Traffic

Anti-Government Protesters Paralyze Downtown Bangkoki
X
January 13, 2014 1:04 PM
In Thailand’s capital, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters clogged key intersections, bridges and roads as part of a campaign to force the government from office ahead of February 2 elections. On the first day of the so-called “Bangkok Shutdown,” Gabrielle Paluch reports the enthusiastic crowds were making preparations for an extended standoff.
Anti-Government Protesters Paralyze Downtown Bangkok
Gabrielle Paluch
In Thailand’s capital, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters clogged key intersections, bridges and roads as part of a campaign to force the government from office ahead of February 2 elections. On the first day of the so-called “Bangkok Shutdown,” the enthusiastic crowds are making preparations for an extended standoff.

Although the protests have halted much of the traffic in the main business district Monday, life is continuing as normal in most of the city.  Thousands of security forces are deployed in the Thai capital, but they have taken no action against the protesters.

The commercial heart of downtown Bangkok was overrun by flag waving protesters starting Sunday evening, when organizers set up stages and sound systems at rally sites across the city.

By Monday morning, throngs of people moved among several main rally sites, blowing whistles, denouncing the prime minister and vowing to pass reforms to improve a government that they argue has grown destructively corrupt.
 
Those gathered see the shutdown as a last resort measure to force a corrupt government from office. Ravit Sriwilai came from nearby Samut Prakan province to join the protesters.
 
Ravit said he had come to the rally today to show that the government has no legitimacy to govern the country anymore, that they must have reform before elections, and that in the past there was a lot of corruption.
 
  • 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.

Thailand’s latest political crisis started late last year, when Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s party tried to pass a broad political amnesty that would have cleared scores of people of crimes linked to political conflict over the last decade. Yingluck’s elder brother, former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, would also have been included, paving the way for the controversial leader’s return from exile.
 
The deeply unpopular amnesty was defeated, and Yingluck later dissolved her government and called for early elections in an attempt to defuse the political backlash, but the protests continued.
 
Now, opposition parties are boycotting the February 2 polls and protesters are demanding significant political reforms before new elections are held. 
 
Skeptics say the movement risks undermining Thailand’s democracy, but protester Jiravadee Kanamoto said another vote will merely maintain the status quo.
 
"We want [an] election, but not right now. Our country is not ready for [an] election. If it's… not a fair election, it's not a fair vote. For sure the same people will come back," said Jiravadee.
 
Thailand’s election commission has suggested delaying the vote by a few months, but authorities have resisted, and even protest leaders say they want more than just a delay before voting.
 
It remains unclear if protesters will be able to continue drawing huge crowds until the elections more than two weeks from now, but they are organized and prepared.
 
Vendors around the rally sites sold protest-themed T-shirts and accessories in the colors of Thailand’s flag. Protest security guards help keep order, and hot, free meals are prepared for the thousands camped at the main rally sites.
 
With thousands in the streets, and passions running high, security remains a key concern. Some 18,000 police and military are deployed to maintain the peace and protect government buildings. However, sporadic shootings have killed eight people and wounded scores of others since the protests began late last year.
 
Authorities say they are ready to declare a state of emergency if there is fresh unrest.
 
Thailand’s military has urged all sides to remain calm, but after launching 18 coups in the past 81 years, the possibility of another coup cannot be ruled out.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
January 13, 2014 6:15 AM
who is behind this?
people who without confidence about the election can represent people?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs