News / Asia

Thousands Protest Against Thai Government

Anti-government protesters shout as they get ready to attack a police barricade near the Government house in Bangkok, Nov. 25, 2013.
Anti-government protesters shout as they get ready to attack a police barricade near the Government house in Bangkok, Nov. 25, 2013.
Ron Corben
Thailand is facing escalating political tensions as tens of thousands of anti-government protesters have turned out in Bangkok, pressing the government to resign.

Anti-government street rallies escalated Monday as protestors marched to key government buildings, briefly occupying the finance ministry and targeting state enterprises, police and army and the ministry of interior.

There were no initial reports of violence or trouble as protestors handed flowers to state officials amid calls by rally leaders to enter buildings peacefully.

Monday's rallies followed a major gathering Sunday where an estimated 100,000 people turned out to call for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government to resign.

Protestors are also calling for an end to what critics see as the excessive influence of her brother, former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who remains overseas to avoid a two year jail term for corruption.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, said the outlook for the government is highly uncertain. "It's going to be a tumultuous week, very precarious. Something will have to give. The government now has to respond," said Pongsudhirak. "The protestors are demanding the entire overhaul, uprooting of everything associated with Thaksin Shinawatra,  which is an open ended, very difficult demand to meet."

  • Well-wishers hold pictures of Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Dec. 4, 2013, as they camp outside the palace where he is staying in Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan province, Thailand, a day before his birthday.
  • Anti-government protesters shout as they break down the barriers at the Thai Police Headquarters in Bangkok, Dec. 4, 2013. 
  • An anti-government protester sweeps the street around the Democracy Monument, Bangkok, Dec. 4, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters sweep the street around the Democracy Monument after weeks of protesting and days of clashes with police in Bangkok's city center, Dec. 4, 2013.
  • An anti-government protester uses a wire cutter in an attempt to break down the barriers at the Thai Police Headquarters, Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 4, 2013. 
  • Anti-government protesters gesture towards riot police outside the headquarters of the ruling Puea Thai Party of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in Bangkok, Nov. 29, 2013.
  • An anti-government protester gestures towards riot police outside the headquarters of the ruling Puea Thai Party of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in Bangkok, Nov. 29, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters shout slogans outside the headquarters of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's Puea Thai Party in Bangkok, Nov. 29, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters march to the government complex in Bangkok, Nov. 27, 2013.
  • Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister leading the protest, waves to his supporters during an anti-government march in Bangkok, Nov. 27, 2013.
  • Supporters cheer anti-government protesters marching in Bangkok, Nov. 27, 2013.
  • A Buddhist monk blows a whistle during a rally outside Interior Ministry in Bangkok, Nov. 26, 2013.
  • Riot police stand guard behind barricades during an anti-government rally in Bangkok, Nov. 26, 2013.
  • Anti-government protesters march toward Thailand's Finance Ministry in Bangkok, Nov. 25, 2013.
  • An anti-government protester fights with police at a barricade near Government House in Bangkok, Nov. 25, 2013.

The latest round of protests started earlier this month when the government attempted to pass a blanket amnesty bill for everyone involved in Thailand's political conflicts of recent years. Thailand's Senate voted down the measure which many believed would have allowed Mr. Thaksin to return to Thailand a free man.

The government faced another setback last week when the Constitutional Court ruled against a bill to provide for a fully elected upper house of parliament. The Senate at present consists of half elected members and the remainder appointed. Critics claimed the bill would allow for relatives of existing parliamentary members to be elected to the upper house, undermining its independence.

Panitan Wattanayagorn, a former government spokesman and political scientist, said the government is now seen to be 'struggling' in the face of the rising political tensions. "The government is struggling to find an appropriate response. If this situation continues too long the legitimacy of the government could be destroyed because never before do you have people who are coming out on the streets like this and demanding the system to be more responsive to the needs of the people," he stated.

A red-shirted supporter holds up a pictures of Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, during a rally at Rajamangala national stadium in Bangkok, Nov. 19, 2013.A red-shirted supporter holds up a pictures of Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, during a rally at Rajamangala national stadium in Bangkok, Nov. 19, 2013.
x
A red-shirted supporter holds up a pictures of Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, during a rally at Rajamangala national stadium in Bangkok, Nov. 19, 2013.
A red-shirted supporter holds up a pictures of Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother Thaksin Shinawatra, during a rally at Rajamangala national stadium in Bangkok, Nov. 19, 2013.
While pressure builds against the government, its supporters, known as Red Shirts, under the leadership of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship, are massing at a stadium on the outskirts of Bangkok.

UDD chairwoman, Tida Tawornseth, said the government remains confident of riding out the latest political storm. "[The government] thinks that they keep everything in the normal situation. But we don't want to put other pressure so we try to have our people on the stadium. But we will try to get more and more people," Tawornseth said. "They said that they can control, but anyway we don't want to see any violence. We don't want the government to make the situation that maybe [leads] to a military coup."

The Yingluck administration's first two years in office marked a period of stability for Thailand's occasionally raucous politics. But with mounting street protests and legal challenges, including corruption charges against the Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers, there are signs that the country's politics are entering a new, more volatile phase.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid