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

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.