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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid