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

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
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.

VOA Blogs