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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs