News / Asia

Free Thai Movement Leader Pledges No Violence

FILE- former Thai Interior Minister and former leader of Pheu Thai Party Jarupong Reuangsuwan speaks at a news conference.
FILE- former Thai Interior Minister and former leader of Pheu Thai Party Jarupong Reuangsuwan speaks at a news conference.

The leader of a new group to restore popular sovereignty in Thailand following a military coup is speaking out about his fledging effort to restore democracy through non-violent action.

One day after forming a democracy movement in exile, the former interior minister of the deposed Thai government is encouraging the junta’s leader to talk with him.

FILE - Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-Ocha arrives at the Army Club in Bangkok, June 13, 2014.FILE - Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-Ocha arrives at the Army Club in Bangkok, June 13, 2014.
x
FILE - Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-Ocha arrives at the Army Club in Bangkok, June 13, 2014.
FILE - Thai Army chief General Prayuth Chan-Ocha arrives at the Army Club in Bangkok, June 13, 2014.

Jarupong Ruangsuwan, who headed the Pheu Thai Party until Sunday, says General Prayuth Chan-ocha should reason with those opposing the coup for peace in the kingdom and to benefit all of its people.
 
Jarupong tells VOA that true victory to rid Thailand of its latest military government may take a long time but he will pursue it “through non-violent means just like Gandhi and the Dalai Lama.”

The prominent, longtime Thai politician announced via social media on Tuesday the formation of the Organization of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy (FT-HD).

Jarupong, in a 45-minute interview via Skype, spoke with VOA News Wednesday from an undisclosed location outside Thailand. He said he would not say where he is because that would put his life in danger. Jarupong has defied an order by the junta to turn himself in for interrogation and is currently considered a fugitive by the military, which has established a special team to search for him.
 
No connection with Thaksin

The FT-HD leader denies the group has any connections with ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra who was deposed in the previous coup in 2006. Thaksin, a billionaire, has been in exile for years and has helped fund the parties which have won every national election since 2001.

Supporters and opponents of the May 22 coup say one aim of the military intervention is to try to rid Thailand permanently of Thaksin’s political influence.

FILE - Soldiers patrol around the Royal Thai Army Headquarters as members of the Radio and Satellite Broadcasters gather in Bangkok, June 18, 2014.FILE - Soldiers patrol around the Royal Thai Army Headquarters as members of the Radio and Satellite Broadcasters gather in Bangkok, June 18, 2014.
x
FILE - Soldiers patrol around the Royal Thai Army Headquarters as members of the Radio and Satellite Broadcasters gather in Bangkok, June 18, 2014.
FILE - Soldiers patrol around the Royal Thai Army Headquarters as members of the Radio and Satellite Broadcasters gather in Bangkok, June 18, 2014.

Jarupong says in the face of guns and bullets possessed by the army his non-violent Free Thai organization cannot fight on its own and will need outside support.
 
Jarupong rejects the findings of an opinion poll taken in the past week showing widespread support for the coup and General Prayuth as the favored candidate to be prime minister.
 
Jarupong says the poll is a “mere joke,” a reflection of a “state of fear.”  Thais nowadays, he says, dare not voice their true opinions. If the army chief is so confident of his popularity, Jarupong asks, why not hold elections soon?
 
General Prayuth has stated that elections cannot be held for a year or more until the process of widespread reform is implemented.
 
An interim, appointed government is expected to be put into place within several months. At present, General Prayuth holds all executive and legislative powers and has abrogated Thailand’s constitution except the article recognizing the King as head of state.
 
Challenge for US

The coup, Thailand’s 19th successful or attempted putsch by the military since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932, has been condemned by many countries, including the United States.
 
The U.S. government this week suspended more assistance to Thailand in response to the coup and is considering moving the major regional “Cobra Gold” military exercise out of the kingdom.

FILE - U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Scot Marciel.FILE - U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Scot Marciel.
x
FILE - U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Scot Marciel.
FILE - U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Scot Marciel.

Scot Marciel, the principal deputy assistant secretary of the State Department’s East Asian and Pacific affairs bureau, during Congressional testimony on Tuesday expressed pessimism about a quick restoration of democracy as was seen after the 2006 coup.
 
“Recent events have shown that the current military coup is both more repressive and likely to last longer than the previous one.”
 
The American official notes the junta’s media censorship and the summoning, detention and intimidation of hundreds of people, including politicians, academics and journalists.
 
Marciel predicts the atmosphere of repression will not result in the promised political reconciliation touted by the junta chief. He also told the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific that if freedoms and elections are not restored "over time there will be more and more Thai people who will look for opportunities to express their unhappiness.”
 
During the hearing, lawmakers from both parties spoke warmly about Thailand and its long alliance with the United States. But they expressed support for the Obama administration’s suspension of aid and military exercises with Bangkok after the junta took power a month ago.
 
The military takeover came after months of protests against the elected government and years of political turmoil.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Ebola Brings Sickness, Fear, Anger

Cornell University Professor Stacey Langwick considers cultural, social aspects of outbreak More

British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign Jihadists More

Violent Quarantine Clashes Hamper Liberia's Struggle to Contain Ebola

Anger, misinformation and mistrust of government hampering efforts to contain the deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: tony lee from: bangkok
June 26, 2014 6:46 AM
Jarupong and Jakrapob team already had the outside help,the powerfuls like;VOA,FT,Nytimes,washingtonpost etc.etc.In fact a non-violence, like Gandhi and Dalai Lama do not need any outside help and it has to be fought inside Thailand.by the way,recent news that Jakrapob was invited by the FT club Hong Kong,later,he was replaced by Robert Amsterdam,any connections?


by: notdisappointed from: Thailand
June 26, 2014 3:54 AM
The Harder Thaksin Shinawatra & His Foreign Backers Fight, the Better…Part 2.

Understand that what Thailand faces is a battle in the streets, in education, in the media, culturally, economically, and politically. To defeat an enemy on the battlefield, you must occupy more of it then him – and you must push him off the battlefield altogether. You take, hold, and entrench yourself everywhere you can. In the media, you must push out the liars and propagandists with truth, pragmatism, and useful information that truly informs, and aids people in making their lives better.

In education, you displace foreign and domestic special interests trying to deform our young people’s minds, and we instead teach them skills to technically, literally shape the world around them through technology and pragmatism. In politics, we take our PDRC groups we made to attend and participate in protests, and develop them into permanent local groups that focus on building strong communities the poisonous influence of Shianwatra cannot enter, divide, and destroy. In culture – we seek to strengthen and promote the nation’s institutions and awareness of their history and contributions to modern day Thailand. Economically, we leverage technology locally to reduce our dependence on the very corporate-financier interests backing Thaksin Shianwatra (and others) and give ourselves full power to direct our future….

These are just some starting points. Thailand is being attacked from all sides, and so Thais must fight back from all sides. Protesting is not enough. Examine how to displace and remove Thaksin’s toxic influence by building something better and stronger where he seeks to infest.


by: Burapha from: Thailand
June 26, 2014 2:13 AM
This man is Thuksin servant. He attends to use 10 million guns in his partner hands to fight with the soldiers.


by: Akearoon from: Bangkok
June 25, 2014 11:48 PM
The longer General Prayuth prolongs the coup situation, the greater might be the overall loss to the nation since there would be many more countries' following suit with the U.S, EU and Australia in pursuing more oppressive measures to the Thai economy. The best way out for him is simply to give up his efforts and return election rights to Thai people as quick as possible. He may have got elected if he entered politics and become a prime minister with dignity and pride. It's highly possible for him because he is so popular now to some circles of Thai people. He can still perform and pursue his or the coup's country-reform program as intended, of course after the election.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid