World News

Thai Protesters Call for Nationwide Occupation of Government Buildings

The leader of Thailand's anti-government protests is calling on supporters to take over more government buildings across the country Wednesday in an escalation of efforts to oust the prime minister.

Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister, told supporters late Tuesday that they should march on government buildings to keep them from being used by the current government.

He made the announcement after police issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with the occupation of government buildings in Bangkok. However, authorities have not yet taken any action to detain him.

Opposition-led protesters expanded their bid to occupy or shut down key state buildings in Bangkok Tuesday, with rallies targeting four more government ministries.

Several thousand people surrounded the Interior Ministry and vowed to spend the night. Protesters had already seized parts of the Finance and Foreign Ministries a day earlier and have camped outside several other state buildings.

They are calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. They say her government is controlled by her brother, the ousted and exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The protests are being led by the opposition Democrat Party, which has launched a no-confidence debate in parliament. Mrs. Yingluck, whose Pheu Thai party dominates parliament, told lawmakers Tuesday she will not step down.

"The accusations are strong and unjust for me, the leader of this government for two years.''

The street protests are the largest in Thailand since 2010, when more than 90 people were killed in a military crackdown on an opposition protest. Prime Minister Yingluck has insisted the military will not use violence to clear the protests.

On Monday, the government expanded an emergency security law, giving police wide authority to deal with the protests. There has so far been no attempt to clear the protesters from the state buildings.

But in a sign of the rising tension, police said they found an unexploded grenade outside a Democrat Party office in Bangkok.

Police have issued an arrest warrant, approved by a Thai court Tuesday, for protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban.

The mass protests were triggered several weeks ago by an amnesty bill that would have allowed Thaksin Shinawatra to return home and avoid a two-year jail term for corruption.

That amnesty bill was rejected by the Senate, but opposition-led protests have continued. Meanwhile, pro-government protesters held their own rally at a Bangkok stadium and vowed not to leave until the opposition calls off its demonstration.

The protests have prompted statements from several foreign governments, including the United States. The State Department said Monday it is "concerned about the rising political tension in Thailand."

It urged "all sides to refrain from violence, exercise restraint, and respect the rule of law" and said "violence and the seizure of public or private property are not acceptable means of resolving political differences."

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra came to power in 2011. Her brother, Thaksin, was toppled by street protests in 2006 and convicted of corruption. He has lived in exile to escape the charges, which he says were politically motivated.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs