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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Head: Breach Won't Happen Again

Julia Pierson tells a House panel investigating a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid