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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora