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

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs