News / Asia

Thai PM Declares State of Emergency

A TV screen grab shows Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva announcing a State of emergency in Bangkok on 07 Apr 2010
A TV screen grab shows Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva announcing a State of emergency in Bangkok on 07 Apr 2010

Multimedia

Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is facing mounting pressure to end anti-government protests and has declared a state of emergency in the capital Bangkok and nearby provinces.  Tensions escalated after anti-government protesters entered the national parliament grounds.  

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared the state of emergency in a nationally televised address.  He said the country faced "a very serious situation" and he was taking action to restore peace and order.

Mr. Abhisit's 16-month old six party coalition government faced mounting pressure after hundreds of anti-government protesters surrounded and briefly entered the nation's parliament building earlier in the day.

Some members of parliament and staff had to climb walls to escape, while senior leaders were evacuated by helicopter.

Flanked by senior government members, Mr. Abhisit told the TV audience violations of the law had increased and the government would take legal action against the protest leaders.  

Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said "appropriate measures" would be taken, but ruled out excessive force in the implementation of the decree.  Panitan said authorities would "do their best" to control the situation.

"The declaration of the emergency decree is based on the situation that is now affecting the lives and the security of the people," he said.  "There are several activities that are now affecting the normal life of the general public, including activities affecting the safety of the officers and of the public," the spokesman added.

The emergency law provides authorities with powers to arrest, detain and interrogate suspects, as well as to censor or prohibit publications.

The military is also expected to take a higher profile role in overseeing security.  But Panitan said the government had no plans to disperse the demonstrations that have been on-going since mid-March.

The anti-government protests, led by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, want Prime Minister Abhisit to step down and call elections within 15 days.  Mr. Abhisit has offered to call elections in nine months.

The protesters, who wear red shirts, largely support former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a coup in 2006 and fled the country in 2008 to avoid a jail sentence for corruption.

The emergency decree also follows unsuccessful efforts Tuesday by hundreds of police and military personnel to force the UDD to vacate a prime commercial area of Bangkok.  The rallies at the site began Saturday and forced hundreds of shops and restaurants to close in the popular tourist area.

A representative for Human Rights Watch, Sunai Pasuk, says the location makes it difficult for security forces to move against the protesters.

"It is very difficult if the government is thinking of dispersal of the Red Shirts using the internal security act to vacate the protester[s] from this business community because there will be severe collateral damage to the property, as well as to the life of the protester[s] as well as those who live in the neighborhood," said Pasuk.

Analysts warn the declaration of an emergency decree may trigger further violence by the Red Shirt movement in its bid to force the government to resign.

In the 1970s and in 1992, the Thai military led bloody crackdowns against demonstrators.  But the government has repeatedly said it wants to avoid violence this time, although it has issued arrest warrants for 10 UDD leaders.

Related report by VOA's Daniel Schearf

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

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.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid