News / Asia

Police Battle Bangkok Protesters as Crisis Deepens

  • An anti-government protester throws back a tear gas canister fired by riot police in Bangkok, Thailand, Dec. 1, 2013.
  • An anti-government protester cleans his eyes with salt water solution after riot police fired tear gas to the protesters in Bangkok.
  • Police line up to thwart any attempt to occupy their headquarters in Bangkok. (Steve Herman/VOA)
  • An anti-government protester gets ready to throw back a tear gas canister fired by riot police in Bangkok.
  • Anti-government protesters take cover during clashes with police near the Government house in Bangkok.
  • Anti-government protesters use self-made barricade against the water cannons and tear gas fired by riot police in Bangkok.
  • Police move behind their shields as they clash with anti-government protesters near the Government house in Bangkok.
  • An anti-government protester atop a loudspeaker truck calling on the prime minister to "get out" in Bangkok. (Steve Herman/VOA)
  • Police behind razor wire at their headquarters in Bangkok (Steve Herman/VOA)
  • Those protesting want to rid the country of what they say is the lingering influence of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. (Steve Herman/VOA)
  • A crowd listening to an anti-government speech at and above a major Bangkok intersection (Steve Herman/VOA)
  • Tens of thousands take to Bangkok's streets demanding the prime minister's ouster. (Steve Herman/VOA)
The leader of Thailand's anti-government protests says he has met with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and refused to back down from his movement's demand that her administration step down in favor of an appointed council.
 
Suthep Thaugsuban told supporters late Sunday at one of the protest encampments in the capital, Bangkok, that the meeting was held under the auspices of the military, which says it is neutral in the conflict.

Thailand’s capital is experiencing its largest and most violent protests in more than three years. Following the reported deaths of four people, police fought back against demonstrators outside the prime minister's offices Sunday. Opposition elements continue to try to take control of government offices and TV stations in a bid to topple the prime minister’s administration.

Thai police fired water cannons and tear gas canisters at anti-government protesters attempting to breach Government House, home to the prime minister's offices.

The clashes come after days of repeated attempts to take control of government offices in an effort to bring down the administration of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Suthep's demands

In a nationally broadcast address earlier Sunday, opposition leader Suthep demanded that TV stations no longer air news from the government.

He also insisted all government workers nationwide should stop working from Monday until the situation changes.

Suthep, a former deputy prime minister, is demanding a “people’s council” select a replacement national leader. He has ruled out negotiations with Yingluck or the possibility of new elections.

But numerous protesters questioned by VOA News outside the besieged Government House, including one woman identifying herself as Pasada, appear willing to abide by a more democratic process to choose a prime minister.

“We all want a new election," he said. "We can’t stand them [the Shinawatra family] any more. We have to bring them down.”

Situation on the ground

Several thousand unarmed soldiers have been called out Sunday to help police guard ministries and other government offices.

Besides seizing the grounds outside Government House, where several ministries are located, protesters also attempted to force their way inside major television stations.

At one location they were foiled: the heavily guarded headquarters of the Royal Thai Police. The gates there have been topped with razor wire while hundreds of police clad in riot gear stood at attention.

Some of the protesters moved to occupy a nearby intersection (Ratchadamri and Rama I roads) adjacent to the capital's major shopping centers, which closed for the day.

At the intersection, police colonel Chaiya Kongsab acknowledges his forces being overwhelmed.

The colonel says there are only 20 officers on the scene but a lot of protesters were coming, so they had to retreat in order to avoid a clash.

Leaders of the pro-government “red shirts” who had rallied inside a Bangkok stadium sent their supporters home Sunday morning after repeated rounds of gunfire erupted outside the arena.

Yingluck came to power in 2011 after her party won a landslide election. She is the sister of Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire who was ousted as prime minister in a 2006 military coup. He is in self-exile in Dubai, facing a two-year prison sentence for a fraud conviction should he return home.

The governing party’s proposal of an amnesty bill, which would have pardoned Thaksin and others accused of political violence in previous clashes was the catalyst for the latest anti-government street demonstrations. But even after the bill was withdrawn, the opposition Democrats pushed forward with a demand for the ouster of Yingluck and scrubbing her brother’s influence from Thai politics.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: kasumo from: bangkok
December 02, 2013 11:07 AM
Urgent. Thai government is using weapons against peaceful protesters who have nothing but bare hands.

by: Virachai from: Bangkok
December 01, 2013 11:46 PM
the Shinawat family become richer and richer from corruption and use taxpayers' money to buy votes to get into power

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More