News / Asia

Thai Coup Faces Organized Opposition

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.
The first sign of organized opposition to Thailand's military coup has emerged, with an ex-government minister vowing to work with fellow dissidents to restore "democratic principles."
 
The formation of the Organization of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy was announced Tuesday in an open letter by Jarupong Ruangsuwan.
 
Jarupong was the head of the Pheu Thai party of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who was ousted by a Constitutional Court ruling just before the military takeover in May.
 
He said the new campaign will help organize resistance, both inside and outside the country, to the military, which he said was undemocratic and trying to preserve its role in politics.
 


Acting foreign minister Sihasak Phuangketkeow dismissed the announcement, saying there was "only one legitimate government" in Thailand.
 
It is not clear where the group will be based or how it even will oppose the junta, which has cracked down harshly on any sign of protest against its takeover.
 
Peter Warr, a Thai expert at the Australian National University, told VOA the military is "firmly in control" for now.
 
"It's quite understandable that some of the Red Shirt people would be trying to form groups like this outside the reach of the military junta. But as of yet, I don't think it's important,” said Warr.
 
The group is made up of a coalition of ex-lawmakers, academics and others in the so-called Red Shirt movement.
 
The Red Shirts are generally supporters of Yingluck's brother, ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup.
 
Thaksin, who is living in self-imposed exile, is not believed to have joined the anti-coup movement announced Tuesday.
 
Opponents of Thaksin took to the streets in November to protest Yingluck's rule, saying she was hopelessly corrupt and a puppet of her brother.
 
Thaksin and his allies have won every election since 2001, but his critics say he has done so by buying votes from the country's rural poor.
 
About 30 people died during the six months of anti-government protests, leading Army General Prayuth Chan-ocha to seize power on May 22.
 
The general, which heads a military that has attempted or carried out 19 coups in the last 82 years, says he has no intention of staying in power permanently, but he has also said civilian rule cannot be restored until the violence calms down and Thailand's political opponents are reconciled.
 
Warr believes the military does not want to stay in power long-term, since it has proven in the past to be ineffective at governing.
 
He said the junta should try to move the country away from an overly centralized "winner takes all" style of government toward a more provincial model that would more accurately reflect Thailand's political divide.
 
"The governments of the provinces are not democratically elected. That has to change. Democracy has to be decentralized to the regional level and the power of the regional provincial governments to raise revenue and in particular to spend revenue - that power has to be largely decentralized," said Warr.
 
Warr also said the military should stop suppressing freedom of speech and freedom of the press and committing other rights violations.
 
The military has detained or summoned hundreds of politicians, academics, activists and journalists from both sides of the political spectrum.
 
Most were released within a week or two, but only after they promised to not leave the country or engage in political activity.
 
Under a sweeping martial law, the junta has also imposed sweeping restrictions on the media and banned gatherings of more than five people.
 
On Monday, Thailand's police force offered a reward of $15 to anyone providing pictures of those thought to be displaying opposition to the coup.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: osuagwu
June 25, 2014 2:14 AM
The way the Thai Prime Minister was removed from office is very reckless. The government organs that should protect democracy failed to uphold the elected government only to grab power and now plunge Thailand into a primeval dictatorship.
There is need to force the military back to their barracks. The duties they have arrogated upon themselves is illegal.

In Response

by: Alex from: Bangkok
June 26, 2014 9:21 AM
Most of Thais support the "the dictatorship" by the way.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid