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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid