News / Asia

    Thai Junta to Explain Itself to International Rights Groups

    Thai soldiers stand guard near their vehicle as bus passengers walk past in Bangkok's Victory Monument, Thailand, June 8, 2014.
    Thai soldiers stand guard near their vehicle as bus passengers walk past in Bangkok's Victory Monument, Thailand, June 8, 2014.
    Reuters
    Thailand's junta said on Monday it had ordered the Thai ambassadors to the United States and Britain to meet human rights groups in an effort to “create understanding” about last month's seizure of power.
     
    Several Western governments have spoken out against the May 22 coup, calling for a speedy return to democracy. Rights groups have urged the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to curb its powers to detain and prosecute civilians.
     
    “The NCPO has ordered Thailand's ambassadors in New York and London to meet representatives from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to create understanding,” Yongyuth Mayalarp, a spokesman for the NCPO, told reporters.
     
    Representatives at Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch confirmed they had been invited to meet the ambassadors.
     
    “We intend to listen to what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs representatives have to say and, of course, we will also reiterate our serious concerns about the military's actions since May 22,” John Sifton, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, told Reuters in an e-mail, adding that a meeting date had not yet been set.
     
    Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said he took power to restore order after nearly seven months of political turmoil in the polarized country. He has launched a reconciliation campaign aimed at healing divisions.
     
    Prayuth is due to meet foreign diplomats on Wednesday to brief them on the military's plans.
     
    The NCPO ordered political parties on Monday to suspend activities. When the military scrapped the constitution after the coup it was unclear whether parties would continue to exist.
     
    The coup was the latest chapter in a power struggle between the Bangkok-based royalist establishment and supporters of ousted former populist premier Thaksin Shinawatra, whose stronghold is in the rural north and northeast.
     
    Thaksin's removal in a 2006 coup did nothing to heal the divide and the military now appears intent on finishing what it started then, shuffling senior civil servants and military personnel to blunt the power of Thaksin loyalists.
     
    The ousted government was headed by Thaksin's sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, until she was ordered to step down on May 7 after a court found her guilty of abuse of power.
     
    Economic stimulus
     
    The NCPO has moved swiftly to revive an economy battered by months of chaos.
     
    On Saturday, Prayuth declared himself head of the Board of Investment, a position typically held by the prime minister.
     
    He has said that this week the junta would begin approving projects to stimulate the economy. It is reviewing a contentious 350 billion baht ($10.8 billion) water management plan and 2 trillion baht in infrastructure projects initiated by the former government.
     
    The water management plan was suspended in 2013 and a court ordered Yingluck to hold more public hearings.
     
    The Constitutional Court ruled against the infrastructure plan in March, saying the funding methods were illegal. Yingluck's government had hoped to boost growth through projects including high-speed railways and highways.
     
    While the junta steamrolls ahead with plans for reform and  stimulus, it has launched campaigns to “bring back happiness”, including free concerts and food stalls.
     
    It has imposed a ban on political gatherings of more than five people and a nationwide curfew, now running from midnight to 4 a.m. However, over the past week, it has lifted the curfew in 10 holiday spots to help stimulate tourism, which accounts for more than 10 percent of the economy.
     
    Still, many have found creative ways to show disapproval of the coup, including handing out “democracy sandwiches” in parks and at university campuses.
     
    Thousands of police and troops were deployed over the weekend to counter anti-coup protesters flashing a three-fingered salute that has become a symbol of defiance, although the number of people challenging the military appears to have dwindled.
     
    Protesters face up to two years in jail. The military has detained more than 300 people since taking over, although most were released after a few days.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora