News / Asia

Thai Protesters Seek to Topple PM After Clashes

An anti-government protester stands in front of barbed wire set up by police near the compound of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's office in Bangkok, Dec. 2, 2013.
An anti-government protester stands in front of barbed wire set up by police near the compound of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's office in Bangkok, Dec. 2, 2013.
Reuters
Thai anti-government protesters vowed to demonstrate again on Monday and forge ahead with a “people's coup” campaign to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, a day after battling riot police outside her fortified office compound.
 
The protesters had set Sunday as “Victory Day” to oust the government but failed to achieve their goal of seizing the prime minister's office at Government House or occupying state buildings, despite intense clashes with riot police.
 
Police mostly held their lines, firing repeated rounds of tear gas and using water cannons against 30,000 protesters, many of whom hurled rocks and petrol bombs. Yingluck was forced to flee a police compound to an undisclosed location.
 
It is the latest dramatic turn in a conflict pitting Bangkok's urban middle class and royalist elite against the mostly poor, rural supporters of Yingluck and her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, a populist former prime minister ousted in a 2006 military coup.
 
Protest leader Suthep Thaungsuban said he met with Yingluck on Sunday but insisted there were no negotiations to end the worst political crisis since bloody political unrest in 2010.
 
“I told Yingluck that if police put down their weapons, we will welcome them as they are also Thai,” he told supporters late on Sunday. “I told Yingluck that this will be our only meeting and we will not meet again until the people win.”
 
The meeting, he said, was arranged by the military, a powerful institution that has publicly taken sides against Thaksin-allied governments in previous political crises but which has expressed neutrality in the current conflict.
 
Suthep, 64, set a Tuesday deadline for Yingluck, 46, to step aside and repeated his call for civil servants to go on strike on Monday. “Stop working for the Thaksin regime and come out and protest,” he said.
 
Several major universities announced closures on Monday, citing the safety of students. The government has urged people in Bangkok, a metropolis of 10 million, to stay indoors from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
 
“People's Coup”
 
A focal point is likely to remain Chaimaruchet Bridge, scene of intense skirmishes near Government House. By late Sunday, protesters had removed cement barriers, leaving just one razor wire-topped barricade between protesters and riot police.
 
Capping a week-long bid to topple Yingluck and end her family's more than decade-long influence over Thai politics, Suthep had urged supporters to seize government offices, television stations, police headquarters and the prime minister's offices in a “people's coup”.
 
Protesters led by Suthep, a deputy prime minister in the previous Democrat-led government that Yingluck's party routed in a 2011 election, occupied a government complex on Thursday and the Finance Ministry on Monday. But they have struggled to seize more government buildings.
 
“They haven't seized a single place,” National Security Council Chief Paradorn Pattanathabutr said of the protesters on Sunday. “They go to different places and they go back out.”
 
Through Sunday, the detonation of stun grenades, followed by the jeers of protesters, echoed across the historic government quarter, not far from the Khao San Road tourist area, after a chaotic night of gun and knife battles in east Bangkok in which three people were killed and at least 58 wounded.
 
Hospitals reported 46 people injured on Sunday.
 
  • An anti-government protester throws back a tear gas canister fired by riot police in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 1, 2013.
  • An anti-government protester cleans his eyes with salt water solution after riot police fired tear gas to the protesters in Bangkok.
  • Police line up to thwart any attempt to occupy their headquarters in Bangkok. (Steve Herman/VOA)
  • An anti-government protester gets ready to throw back a tear gas canister fired by riot police in Bangkok.
  • Anti-government protesters take cover during clashes with police near the Government house in Bangkok.
  • Anti-government protesters use self-made barricade against the water cannons and tear gas fired by riot police in Bangkok.
  • Police move behind their shields as they clash with anti-government protesters near the Government house in Bangkok.
  • An anti-government protester atop a loudspeaker truck calling on the prime minister to "get out" in Bangkok. (Steve Herman/VOA)
  • Police behind razor wire at their headquarters in Bangkok (Steve Herman/VOA)
  • Those protesting want to rid the country of what they say is the lingering influence of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. (Steve Herman/VOA)
  • A crowd listening to an anti-government speech at and above a major Bangkok intersection (Steve Herman/VOA)
  • Tens of thousands take to Bangkok's streets demanding the prime minister's ouster. (Steve Herman/VOA)

Reuters journalists waiting to interview Yingluck in the police Narcotics Suppression Bureau were told by an aide she had left after protesters made it inside the outer compound of the Police Sports Club, where the bureau is located.
 
The area around Government House was a scene of nearly non-stop skirmishes, as police fired teargas into a stone-throwing crowd chanting “Slaves! Slaves!” A Reuters photographer saw protesters hurl at least a dozen petrol bombs into police positions from Rajamangala University of Technology Phra Nakhorn across a canal from Government House.
 
Yingluck, Thailand's first female prime minister, has called for talks with the protesters to end the protests, which have been joined by the opposition Democrats, Thailand's oldest political party. The Democrats have not won an election in more than two decades and have lost every national vote for the past 13 years to Thaksin or his allies.
 
Thaksin, who won over poor rural and urban voters with populist policies, was convicted in absentia of graft in 2008. He dismisses the charges as politically motivated and remains in close touch with the government from his self-imposed exile, sometimes holding meetings with Yingluck's cabinet by webcam.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kasumo from: Bangkok
December 02, 2013 11:04 AM
Urgent. Thai government is using weapons against peaceful protesters who have nothing but bare hands.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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