News / Asia

Protests Shut Down Central Bangkok

Thai anti-government protesters march in a street, in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 22, 2013.
Thai anti-government protesters march in a street, in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 22, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Ron Corben
— Protesters hoping to stall Thailand's general elections, scheduled for February, thronged central Bangkok on Sunday as part of on-going rallies against the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.  Meanwhile, the prime minister travelled to a governing party stronghold to campaign.

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters brought central Bangkok to a halt Sunday in the campaign to force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign and put a halt to national elections on February 2.  The protests were generally good-natured.

Protest leader and former opposition lawmaker Suthep Thangsuban told the crowds he was confident of ending influence in the government by Yingluck's older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister who protesters accuse of corruption and abuse of power.

  • Thai anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban holds clenched fists during a march with his supporters in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 22, 2013. 
  • Thai anti-government protesters march cross Takin Bridge during a rally, Dec. 22, 2013, in Bangkok, Thailand. 
  • Thai anti-government protesters march in the streets, Dec. 22, 2013, in Bangkok, Thailand. 
  • Tens of thousands of protesters marched through Thailand's capital paralyzing traffic and facing off with police outside the prime minister's residence in their latest mass rally against Thailand's government, Dec. 22, 2013, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • A Thai anti-government protester holds a banner as she joins a rally outside Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's residence, Dec. 22, 2013, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, center, with his wife Srisakul Promphan, in white, arrives at the Democracy monument, in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 15, 2013. 
  • A protester with a Thai national flag walks past concrete barriers sprayed with "Failed Government" outside the fence around Government House, wrapped by a long banner in the colors of the national flag in Bangkok, Dec. 13, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters remove barbed wire after briefly entering the compound of the prime minister's office, known as Government House, in Bangkok, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • Police wear their riot gear inside Government House, as anti-government protesters gather behind its fence and gates in Bangkok, Dec. 12, 2013.
  • A group of Buddhist monks walk past a sleeping anti-government protester at a protest camp on a road near Government House in Bangkok, Dec. 11, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters sleep outside Government House in Bangkok, Dec. 10, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters carry a huge Thai national flag as they march in Bangkok, Dec. 9, 2013.

Protester Khun Kitina, an employee of a global information technology corporation, supported Suthep’s call to postpone the February ballot due to fears of corruption in the vote.

"We cannot accept the Thaksin system anymore and as you know they not do anything for the people.  And if we have the election on the 2nd of February it will still have the corruption and Thaksin still have the power for the election team to perform the election.  It cannot be a pure [clean] election from the people," she said.

Thaksin remains in self-imposed exile to avoid a jail term for corruption and other charges linked to his five-year term in office before the army ousted him in 2006.  But pro-Thaksin parties, buoyed by rural voters, have won elections since then, the last in July 2011.  But largely urban protesters accuse the government of abuse of power.

The rallies in Bangkok were launched in November after the Yingluck government passed legislation providing a blanket amnesty covering corruption and political crimes dating back eight years.  The last-minute amended bill was seen to favor Thaksin to enable him to return to Thailand a free man.

Protester Khun Nat, a post-graduate university student, said he supported the call for the election to be delayed until political reforms were implemented.

"I want to see change in the right way, in the right way that we open our heart and speak together.  We have the democracy, we have to respect the democracy but we have something bad behind it.  We are Thai, we have the right to claim this back to our people," he said.

The outline for reforms remains unclear.  Prime Minister Yingluck said after the election a national reform council would be set up to work towards widespread reforms.  Protesters said the reforms should occur before an election.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Yingluck travelled to the northern provinces - a stronghold of the governing Pheu Thai Party, as anti-government protesters rallied outside her Bangkok residence, scuffling briefly with police.

The governing party appears set to strengthen its grip on parliament after the main opposition Democrat Party announced Saturday a boycott of the poll until reforms are implemented.

Thailand's Election Commission is weighing the possibility of relocating the venue for the registration of party-list parliamentary candidates in Bangkok, scheduled to start Monday, amid fears that protesters may try to prevent the registration going ahead.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: moommarm from: BKK Thailand
December 24, 2013 10:23 AM
"Tens of thousands" ? shame on you VOA

In Response

by: Summer from: Seoul
December 24, 2013 8:41 PM
I'm curious, shame because the number was much higher, much lower, or "tens of thousands" is just too inaccurate?


by: sirichitr from: Bangkok Thailand
December 23, 2013 6:48 AM
Thai people are not anti the coming election. The protesters are asking for country reform before the election. We do not want the politician that come's from vote buying. Corruption and dictatorship under democracy that ruled the country. Especially the un qualified prime minister, who will not shame Thai people.


by: Theo from: Los Angeles
December 22, 2013 9:08 PM
People asking for reform because under Yingluck &Thaksin system, they can & will win every election. Thaksin control &regulated most police, most military, most TV& Radio station, most newspaper. Fair campaign contribution is impossible because most poor and under-educated, taxi driver, taxi bike are being pay by Thaksin system

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid