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

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora