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

    Steve Herman is VOA's Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, based at the State Department.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora