News / Asia

    Attacks on Bangkok Protesters Spark Fear

    Anti-government protesters take part in a rally outside the Import-Export Bank of Thailand as protesters forced the evacuation of its employees in central Bangkok, Jan. 17, 2014.
    Anti-government protesters take part in a rally outside the Import-Export Bank of Thailand as protesters forced the evacuation of its employees in central Bangkok, Jan. 17, 2014.
    Ron Corben
    An attack using explosives against anti-government protesters in Bangkok has wounded at least 28 people.  The violence comes as judicial authorities probe the prime minister’s connection to a controversial rice-pledging scheme that critics say has been plagued by corruption.
     
    Friday’s midday attack wounded protesters who were marching with movement leader Suthep Thaugsuban, and followed a series of bombings in recent days against the anti-government camp.
     
    Earlier Friday pro-government 'red shirt' supporters attacked a protest site 20 kilometers from the city center.
     
    Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for New York-based Human Rights Watch, said without dialogue further violence can be expected.  "There's a significant risk of escalating violence if there are not some sort of negotiations, discussions between the two sides and if both sides don't restrain those within their ranks who might be poised to provoke or institute violence," he stated.
     
    Since the anti-government protests began in November at least eight people have died - including two police officers - and dozens injured from tear gas and clashes between protesters and police.
     
    Since the “Bangkok Shutdown” marches began this week, sporadic violence mostly occurred late at night. Friday’s incident is the first targeting daytime marches.
     
    On Thursday, Thailand's National Anti-Corruption commission (NACC) announced it was launching a full inquiry in Yingluck's role and oversight in a multi-billion dollar rice pledging scheme. Two former cabinet members and several state officials are also under investigation.

    The NACC said if Yingluck is found negligent she would be called on to step down from all official duties.
     
    NACC spokesman, Vicha Mahakhun, said the inquiry into the Prime Minister lay in her responsibilities as head of the rice policy committee. "We started the inquiry into the caretaker Prime Minister’s alleged role on the basis that she was the chairperson of the national rice policy committee that oversaw the rice pledging scheme and plus her rank of the head of the government that she must take care of the administration of every minister,” said Mahakhun.   
     
    Vicha said case against Yingluck is of gross negligence under the penal code of Thailand and the inquiry is expected to take two to three months.
     
    The investigation is one of several that could implicate members of the prime minister’s party. Government agencies also are looking into past attempts to reform the constitution and a $70 billion infrastructure spending program.
     
    But political scientist and former government spokesman, Panitan Wattanyagorn, said the independent agencies will be cautious in handling the cases due to the highly charged political atmosphere.
     
    "The charges on corruption on various projects are critical for these independent agencies to handle carefully. They realize that on one hand these cases have sufficient ground to prosecute or proceed involving high ranking offices in the government or the cabinet - they need to be very careful in looking into these charges because the charges are quite serious," said Wattanyagorn.
     
    Yingluck's government has faced growing protests since presenting a broad amnesty bill last year seen to benefit her older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in exile to avoid a jail term for corruption. Under the terms of the bill, later voted down by the Senate, the amnesty would have also extended to cover members of Ms Yingluck's administration.
     
    Yingluck, in a bid to ease political tensions, called early general elections for February 2. But anti-government protestors are seeking her resignation and the appointment of a non-elected council to institute reforms.
     
    The Prime Minister has remained adamant that the election will go forward as planned, despite the opposition Democrat Party's boycotting the vote.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora