News / Asia

Thai Protesters Defiant in Face of State of Emergency

Anti-government protesters break the police sign outside police headquarters during a rally in Bangkok, Thailand, Jan. 22, 2014.
Anti-government protesters break the police sign outside police headquarters during a rally in Bangkok, Thailand, Jan. 22, 2014.
Ron Corben
Thai anti-government demonstrators in Bangkok remained defiant on the first day of a state of emergency in the capital. Analysts say fears of further violence and uncertainty remain in the lead up to elections on February 2.

Protest leader Suthep Thangsuban led a convoy of anti-government protesters in central Bangkok in defiance of the government's declaration of a state of emergency, which came into effect Wednesday.

Suthep, a former opposition lawmaker who has led protests since November, is calling for the prime minister's resignation. He said the weeks of rallies would continue despite the decree.

The protesters have moved to blockade key roads in Bangkok for more than a week to pressure the government to postpone general elections and instead set in place reforms before a fresh vote.

The Thai Foreign Ministry permanent secretary, Sihasak Phuoangketkew, told the media Wednesday fears of violence ahead of the vote was the main reason for the state of emergency being declared.

"Just ahead and there's concern that perhaps there could be more incidents and so I think this is maybe more or less a preemptive measure so that the police, the security personnel can be in a better position to deal with any situation we might be confronted with in the future, especially with the lead up to the coming election," said Sihasak.

The decree, overseen by the police with support from the Thai military, covers only Bangkok and the surrounding provinces for up to 60 days and grants authorities wide powers.

But Kraisak Choonhavan, a member of the opposition Democrat Party which is boycotting next month's polls, said the decree has angered protesters.

"It's only heightened the anger and the protesters will no longer I think be subtle as they were. I think they've gone a bit too far by closing so many roads. But nevertheless you are seeing a fairly peaceful demonstrator," said Kraisak.

Fears of violence remain acute ahead of the February 2 poll. Officials said since the protests began in November, at least nine people have died and 554 have been injured. In two recent grenade attacks, one protester was killed and more than 60 injured.

  • An anti-government protester wears a mask made of "No Vote" stickers as he marches with others through Bangkok, Jan. 31, 2014.
  • Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban greets the crowd as he leads anti-government protesters marching through Bangkok, Jan. 31, 2014.
  • Police try to clear a main street for an anti-government protest march in Bangkok, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters with national flags gather for a rally in Bangkok, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters hold placards during a march through central Bangkok, Jan. 30, 2014.
  • An anti-government protester holds a national flag in front of a portrait of Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, during a rally, Bangkok, Jan. 29, 2014.
  • Anti-government protesters chain the gate of an office for the Land Transportation Department in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • Riot police stand guard inside the compound of the Thai Royal Police Club in Bangkok, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • An anti-government protester plays a guitar near a barricade outside the compound of the Thai Royal Police Club in Bangkok, Jan. 29, 2014. 
  • A girl reacts at an anti-government rally in central Bangkok, Jan. 28, 2014.

On Wednesday a key leader of the pro-government Red Shirt Movement was shot in the northern government stronghold of Udon Thani; but he survived and was taken to a hospital.

Analysts said both sides appear deeply entrenched, with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra remaining steadfast in the face of calls for her resignation.

The protesters said they were seeking to end the political influence of Yingluck's older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who fled Thailand in 2008 to avoid a jail sentence for corruption. The government attempted and failed to pass a blanket amnesty bill that would have led to Thaksin's return as a free man.

The government said the February 2 polls were the way to end the crisis. But the election commission has repeatedly called for the vote to be postponed to avoid bloodshed and a failed vote.

This week, the commission is seeking advice from the Constitutional Court over the legal status of setting new polls if the February 2 elections fail.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid