News / Asia

Thai Military Declares Martial Law, Seeks 'Peace and Order'

Thai Army Intervenes in Political Standoff, Declares Martial Lawi
X
May 20, 2014 12:38 PM
Thailand’s army imposed martial law in the country Tuesday and insisted the action is not a coup but is instead aimed at resolving the political standoff through dialogue. But it remains unclear how the military, which has staged 18 coups or attempted coups in Thailand since 1932, will be able to break the impasse. Barry Newhouse reports from Bangkok.

Watch Barry Newhouse related video report

Ron Corben
Thailand's military has declared martial law, saying it did so to keep "peace and order" after months of sometimes violent anti-government protests, the army chief said.

In a televised announcement early Tuesday, General Prayuth Chan-Ocha defended the move as necessary to resolve the country's political crisis.

As soldiers took up positions in key parts of Bangkok, the military denied it was staging a coup and urged rival political groups to come together and talk.

In a declaration broadcast on national television, Prayuth said the army acted over concerns that the security situation is deteriorating and to prevent violence between pro- and anti-government supporters.
 
  • Thai Army Chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha greets other officers upon his arrival at an army club for a meeting with high ranking officials after declaring martial law, in Bangkok, Thailand, May 20, 2014.
  • A Thai soldier guards the Government House compound of the prime minister's office, in Bangkok, Thailand, May 20, 2014.
  • Thai soldiers take their positions in the middle of a main intersection in Bangkok's shopping district May 20, 2014.
  • Commuters drive their motorcycles past Thai soldiers positioned in the middle of a main intersection in the shopping district, in Bangkok, May 20, 2014.
  • Thai soldiers check a taxi near the site where pro-government "red shirt" supporters gather, in the suburbs of Bangkok, May 20, 2014.
  • A Thai soldier stands atop a military vehicle outside the Center for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) after soldiers were sent in to seize the center, in Bangkok, Thailand, May 20, 2014.

“The Royal Thai Army intends to bring back peace and order to the beloved country of every Thai as soon as possible,” Prayuth said.

“We therefore ask every side and every group to stop their movement, in order to quickly enter the process and sustainably solve the country’s problem. The provisions of the Martial Law Act 1914 will be announced. We are asking the general public not to panic and still carry on their duties and work normally,” he added.

Prayuth met later Tuesday with senior officials from several government agencies. He called for talks between rival parties, but vowed martial law would remain in place until law and order is restored.

The army denies it is taking over. Several officials strongly denied a coup had taken place.

Mark Thompson, director of Southeast Asia research at City University of Hong Kong, told VOA that the military is reluctant to label its actions as a coup because it fears this could stoke further unrest.

“It is semantics, but it's an important point, because the last time the military stepped in in 2006, it didn't work. And the military is afraid that if they call it a coup and actually remove the caretaker government officially, not de facto like they are doing now, that will provoke the Red Shirts and could lead the country closer to civil war."

Interim government in charge

Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri told reporters the interim government is still in charge and insists the army's move only relates to security. However, members of the caretaker government say they were not consulted before the decision to implement the martial law.

In a statement, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. is "very concerned" and is monitoring the situation. She said the U.S. expects the Thai army to honor its commitment to make the martial law a "temporary action to prevent violence, and to not undermine democratic institutions."

Panitan Wattanayagorn, a political scientist from Chulalongkorn University, said the military may be hoping to stabilize a volatile and deadlocked political climate, amid fears of violence.

"The potential violence that is looming is quite large,” Panitan said.

“These groups of people are ready to confront each other with arms. The military wants to stabilize that. But it's not going to be easy,” he said. “But of course, I think the military is determined to do that. If they are successful, then secondly you may buy time and open any space for negotiation. The question is where and what negotiation should resume?"
 
Bangkok has endured six months of anti-government protests pressing the government of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down. A recent constitutional court found Yingluck and nine cabinet members guilty of abuse of power, which led to their resignation.

The military said the new caretaker government of Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan remains in place. The army chief urged both sides of the political divide to come together and discuss a solution.

Boonsongpaisan on Tuesday called for fresh polls to be held on August 3 in a bid to end the nation's political turmoil, according to the French news agency AFP.

He told reporters that the government had written to the Thai Election Commission proposing the new date for polls and hoped to "submit a royal decree" next week for the king to endorse a new national vote.

While the Thai army largely stayed out of the political deadlock over recent months, some pro-government leaders, such as senior party member Smarn Leertwongrath, see the military as sympathetic to the demands of former lawmaker Suthep Thangsuban's anti-government protesters.

"I believe that the commander in chief of the army is on the side of Khun Suthep. Probably they want to tell the Thai people they want everyone into a situation that the political (climate) can be calm for just a while,” Smarn said.

Since 1932, Thailand has faced 18 coups or coup attempts. The last, in 2006, saw the overthrow of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was accused of abuse of power.

Latest conflict

Thailand's latest descent into political conflict began in October following more than two years of relative calm under former Prime Minister Yingluck and her Pheu Thai Party.

But street protests erupted over a proposed amnesty bill that opened the way for the return of Thaksin, who fled Thailand in 2008 to avoid a jail term for corruption. Nearly 30 people have died and hundreds have been injured in violence related to the protests since November.

Under the martial law declared Tuesday, the army says both pro- and anti-government protesters must remain in their designated demonstration sites.

Anti-government demonstrators, who forced the annulment of elections in February and had vowed a "final battle" in coming days to topple the prime minister, called off a march that had been planned for Tuesday, AFP reported.

In a televised statement, the army also warned against spreading news that can "negatively affect security." Troops were positioned at TV stations where broadcasts were suspended under sweeping censorship orders, although regular Thais appeared largely unfazed, according to AFP reports.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said the declaration of martial law Tuesday marks a step back in Thailand's political process.

"This is very scary and that's why so drastic actions like martial law there needs to be convincing evidence that the survival of the nation is at risk or there is out of control public disturbance - something similar to full scale riots or civil war,” said Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch. “But we don't see that. The reasons given by the Army chief are all speculative."

Sunai said the army’s apparent tactic of pressuring conflicting parties to seek a way forward may lead to greater damage for Thailand.
 
Analysts said the Army hopes to avoid a repetition of bloodshed in 2010, when clashes with Red Shirt protesters left over 90 people dead in the worst bloody violence since 1992.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
May 20, 2014 1:24 PM
Wake up people what going on around us we don't no what they really order Marshall law for we are being decisive by santan look up and ask Jesus to for give all of our sin JESUS LOVE YOU REMBER WHO DIE FOR YOU


by: Anonymous
May 20, 2014 11:41 AM
people of Thai remain in peace.men of Thai life is more precious.your loving wives and children depend on you.never attempt war in your country.even God can't allow an evil man die(Ezekiel 18:23) forgive each and live in peace.


by: Frank from: USA
May 20, 2014 11:10 AM
Never mind Thailand, this will happen in the USA under AGENDA 21. Most sheep Americans are asleep to this FACT, but when the next MANUFACTURED CRISIS is initiated by the Global Elites or the CIA, martial law will happen here. Remember, grandpa and grandma, Liberterians, and returning veterans are the NUMBER ONE so-called threat to America, as the CIA funds Al Qaeda from off shore banks. Time to WAKE UP, America, being informed is the first step in being the RESISTANCE!


by: hegesias
May 20, 2014 9:18 AM
Because nothing makes "peace and order" like martial law.

In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
May 20, 2014 2:31 PM
I do believe that all the governments toppled by violent protesters, are now having violent protesters trying to topple them? -- Violent protests lead to more violent protests, and they lead to a never ending cycle of more violent protests? --
The military is the only means to bring order and a peaceful government to a democracy, a monarchy, or a communist country.. -- AND if the military fails, the country will descend into chaos, violence, and lawlessness..... REALLY


by: siripol from: Bangkok
May 20, 2014 5:07 AM
I just would like to emphasize that not only military coup but also Taksin's group deteriorate the democracy. Indeed the Government under Taksin's direction has destroyed our country stability.
Therefore plse do not adopt American standard gauge all country, when talk about democracy. He make use his wealth to create his wealth

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid