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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake 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.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid