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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs