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.
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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs