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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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 Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More