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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid