News / Asia

Thai Government Declares Curfew in Bangkok

Thai Red Shirt anti-government protest leaders Nattawut Saikuar (2L) and Wiphuthalang (3R, blue cap) are arrested by police officers after they announced to the crowd their surrender on the stage inside the protesters' camp in downtown Bangkok, 19 May 201
Thai Red Shirt anti-government protest leaders Nattawut Saikuar (2L) and Wiphuthalang (3R, blue cap) are arrested by police officers after they announced to the crowd their surrender on the stage inside the protesters' camp in downtown Bangkok, 19 May 201

The Thai government has declared an overnight curfew for the capital, Bangkok, as violence swept across the capital after military operations brought an end to a two-month long, anti-government protest in in the central part of the city. At least 6 people were reported dead in the latest violence, including an Italian photojournalist, the second foreign reporter to die since the protests began in mid-March. 

Leaders of the anti-government protesters, known as the Red Shirts, surrendered to police and told demonstrators they were ending the extended rally in order to avoid further bloodshed.  Some of the anti-government leaders fled the area as the military moved in.  Amid the chaos, arson attacks broke out across Bangkok at power stations, malls, media outlets and other buildings.  Rioters also commandeered public buses.


Panitan Wattanayagorn, the government spokesman, said problem areas remained in the city, after the military's early-morning raid on the Rajaprasong campsite occupied by the anti-government protesters.

"We are now facing a few pockets of trouble in several places in Bangkok. We would like to ask for your cooperation to remain in your own households. The government has declared curfew as you may already know tonight starting from 8 pm to 6 am in the morning."

The declaration followed a day of rising violence after the dawn operation by hundreds of police and soldiers against the anti-government protesters.  Along with the Italian journalist, at least 5 protesters were killed.  Scores of other people were wounded.

Earlier, as troops backed by armored personnel carriers had advanced toward Rajaprasong, explosions could be heard across the city and protesters set fire to rubber tires, sending large plumes of dark smoke skyward. In the financial district of Silom, the military warned the protesters to surrender, firing warning shots toward the camp site.

The military succeeded in retaking the Rajaprasong area together with a local park that had been occupied by Red Shirt protesters by early afternoon local time. The raid by security forces followed government efforts to negotiate an end to the protest rally with an offer to hold early elections.  On Tuesday, the government refused last minute talks with the Red Shirt leaders.

A medical doctor, Dr. Chousak at the Bangkok Christian Hospital, said it was time for the government to act.

"The government has tried to do its best to resolve things with the least casualties. I think at this stage something definite has to be done to resolve things rather than let it drag on."

More than 60 people have been killed and 1,200 wounded in the past two months of protests and unrest. Many of the protesters remain supporters of former Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a coup in 2006.  In a statement, Mr. Thaksin sought to distance himself from the violence rejecting government charges he was the mastermind behind the rally.

The protests have been the most violent in Thailand in nearly two decades.  The demonstrations have caused havoc to key areas of the economy such as tourism and economists have warned that economic growth may also be affected due to political uncertainties.

Related Video by VOA's Brian Padden

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs