News / Asia

Thailand Declares State of Emergency as Anti-government Protests Continue

A Thai anti-government protester holds a placard and chants slogans during a rally at Victory Monument intersection, Jan. 21, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.
A Thai anti-government protester holds a placard and chants slogans during a rally at Victory Monument intersection, Jan. 21, 2014 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Ron Corben
Thailand’s government has imposed a 60-day state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding provinces following months of protests by anti-government demonstrators in the capital.

The state of emergency officially came into effect at 12:00 am Wednesday, but there has so far been no immediate sign that security forces plan to break up anti-government protests entering their ninth consecutive day.

The deputy interior minister announced the new measures Tuesday, giving security forces new powers to ban political gatherings of more than five people, censor news media, impose curfews and detain subjects without charge.

For weeks, authorities have worried about the country’s ability to conduct the vote during the continuing demonstrations in downtown Bangkok, but have said they have no legal option for delaying elections.

Protesters in the capital have demanded a halt to the vote and the appointment of an unelected council to impose broad political reforms before holding another election. After the country’s opposition Democrat Party decided to boycott the vote, protesters then prevented scores of candidates for registering for the election to undermine its legitimacy.

  • 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.

Smarn Lertwongrath, a senior advisor for the ruling Pheu Thai party says the election will go ahead despite possible problems for voters in Bangkok and in the southern provinces, where protesters largely succeeded in blocking candidate registrations.

"It will take place; we are certain on the 2nd of February there will be an election - only some problem in Bangkok and in [the] Southern provinces. But it's not the big provinces and in the end there will be another two or three [bi-] elections and I'm sure the election will be complete," Lertwongrath said.

Thailand's Election Commission has repeatedly warned the government over possible disruptions to the February polls, including insufficient volunteers to man the polling booths.

On Tuesday, the commission said it would seek advice from the Constitutional Court on setting a new date for polls if next month's vote fails to proceed smoothly.

The emergency decree raises the possibility that security forces may abandon the largely hands-off policy they have taken with Bangkok’s protests so far. Demonstrators have been allowed to set up camps and march through the city’s busiest streets each day, and regularly occupy government ministries to try to keep them from functioning.

But the violence has increased as the protests have worn on. Daytime grenade attacks have wounded scores and killed at least one person in recent days. The government and opposition have accused each other of being behind the attacks. The Thai Army has expressed concern after intelligence reports suggested weapons and explosives being stockpiled in the capital.

On Monday, protesters invaded the offices of the Justice Ministry's Department of Special Investigation (DSI). The department chief, Tarit Pengeid, reacted angrily.

Tarit says he condemns the protesters' behavior for having forced officials from the building. He says they later locked down access to the offices.

Thailand's current bitter and protracted political battle comes as urban middle class voters charge that Ms. Yingluck's older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, has an excessive control over the government despite living overseas to avoid a jail term for corruption

Thaskin, ousted in a coup in 2006, built substantial voter support in the northern regions and urban working class through populist policies targeting the poor.

But a blanket amnesty bill passed by the ruling party in late October was seen as clearing the way for Thaksin's return to Thailand free of criminal charges, triggered tens of thousands to protest. The government later annulled the bill and called for fresh elections, saying polls were the way out of the crisis.

You May Like

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

Euro falls after European Central Bank announces a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program More

Saudi King’s Death Clears Succession Route

Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef is Saudi Arabia's New Crown Prince-in-waiting More

Cloud Hangs Over US Counterterrorism Efforts in Yemen

Sources say resignations of Yemen's president, government has left US anti-terror operations 'paralyzed,' yet an American military 'footprint' remains More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: cmh from: US
January 21, 2014 11:36 PM
OMG we are starting to look like stinking Iran or some Arab country


by: Bill from: BKK
January 21, 2014 8:44 PM
What Suthep wants is fascism. He rallies with marching music, waves the flag, is backed by those in powerful positions, shouts his arguements, uses arm movements to enforce a point, ignores the law and would marginalize the untermench. Think back 80 years in Germany.


by: Sontha Limthong from: Bangkok
January 21, 2014 6:58 PM
Get rid of Yingluck and Taksin's Regime. Please help cast the ballot on February2,2014 because we are not barbarians. Thailand is not a Mobbocrazy country. Why don't we keep our universal democratic system for our children.


by: Guildenstern from: US
January 21, 2014 2:14 PM
These protestors might as well be walking around with a huge "kick me" sign affixed to their backsides.

The government has been more than reasonable in dealing with the situation, even calling an election. If the protestors get their way, it will be the a bad day for all of the Thai people and the economic gains made over the past decade will begin to reverse.


by: patrick marsh from: MA USA
January 21, 2014 12:53 PM
The protesters and their leadership are not interested in democracy but only in power. For over 10 years they have obstructed the will of the majority of the people in Thailand. They do this because they are backed by the moneyed elite , the judiciary, and the military. Perhaps instead they should accept their defeat and in fine democratic tradition co-opt the issues that have let the ruling Puea Thai party win.


by: Laura from: USA
January 21, 2014 11:25 AM
Democracy is of, for and by the people. If Thai people want Yingluck to get out due to past corruption of her brother and family and his influence on her political performance, then she must consider Thai people's welfare, Thailand political and economic stability, STEP DOWN and give the power to the people.

In Response

by: scotus5369 from: CA
January 21, 2014 12:36 PM
Why not allow ALL Thais to vote in a free and fair election to determine whether or not they want PTP and Yingluck. You can't have a minority that resorts to extra-parliamentary measures to determine the outcome for all. That, my friends, is not democracy. In a free and fair election, we are all equal; we all have a voice.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid