News / Asia

Thailand Remains Tense

Thailand remains tense as troops act to remove anti-government protesters in Bangkok. As the violence mounts in the heart of the capital, many regret the failure of a plan that offered a way for the government and protesters to peacefully resolve their differences.

The gunfire and explosions that reverberated in central Bangkok Friday put to death the hopes created last week. That was when Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajjiva offered a reconciliation plan, which, combined with behind-the-scenes negotiations, seemed to end the threat of new violence between government forces and the red-shirt protesters.

The anti-government rallies at the Rajaprasong commercial area in Bangkok since early April have paralyzed business with massive revenue losses. The government has been under increasing pressure to end them. But the protesters, known as red shirts, refused to leave until Mr. Abhisit called immediate elections.

However, the red-shirt leaders unexpectedly welcomed the prime minister's reconciliation plan, which included elections in November. The city seemed to breathe a sigh of relief.

Kraisak Choonhavan, a key member of the governing Democrat Party, said the plan's hopes rested on it being accepted by red shirt leaders, and Mr. Abhisit's willingness to compromise.

"He's willing to compromise to a great extent and that's what he's done," he said. "The shortcomings of the result of the negotiations was quite startling to all of us because they [red-shirt] leaders had set a date for the dismantling of the barricades and move out, the cessation of all violence."

But the red shirts set down additional demands, particularly over the investigation of clashes with security forces on April 10. Their demands eroded faith in reconciliation plan.

No amnesty for Thaksin

And some political analysts here say the two sides failed to agree on an amnesty for Thaksin Shinawatra. The former prime minister, a major supporter of the red shirts, was ousted in a military coup in 2006, and now lives overseas to avoid a prison term for corruption.

On Thursday, the government began to isolate the protest camp, throwing up a tight security cordon around the camp, cutting off telecommunications, and blocking supplies of food and water. That sparked a series of clashes on the streets through the night, and that were continuing Friday night. Scores have been wounded.

Sunai Pasuk, a representative in Thailand for Human Rights Watch, fears the military's strategy could make matters worse.

"To me, in a situation like this and with protesters who are very defiant and agitated, this is an ingredient for disaster," he said. "This is a very dangerous situation that the government needs to operate with extreme care about the rules of [military] engagement. So I am very concerned."

But Sunai says the situation is complicated because moderate red-shirt leaders are reported to have left the movement. Those remaining have advocated more violence to force the government out.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political science professor at Chulalongkorn University, says many red shirts remain angry over court decisions that tossed out two elected pro-Thaksin governments in 2008. Their removal opened the way for parliament to make Mr. Abhisit prime minister.

"When you deny, when a substantial number of voters are denied and disenfranchised they will become disillusioned and take action upon themselves," he said.

As a result, Thailand faces its most political violence in almost 20 years, as the military seeks to retake key locations while the red shirts remain defiant - and willing to fight to the end.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid