News / Asia

Threat of Increasing Thai Violence Opens Way to Fresh Talks

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban addresses anti-government protesters in their encampment in central Bangkok, Feb. 25, 2014.
Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban addresses anti-government protesters in their encampment in central Bangkok, Feb. 25, 2014.
Ron Corben
— In Thailand, mounting violence has triggered renewed efforts to start talks between the government and protesters.  There are signs of bipartisan support to accept an offer for the U.N. to act as a mediator in a bid to end the political conflict and the bloodshed in the streets.

Talks aimed at ending the violence have taken place between the Thai government and protesters. The one hour session Monday was led by Thailand's senior election commissioner, and included a senior member of the governing Pheu Thai Party and a Buddhist monk who is a co-leader of the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee, or PDRC.

Election Commissioner Somchai Sirisuthiyakorn, through social media Tuesday, said the talks ended with both sides calling for further discussions as long as violence was reduced.

Lumpini Park, Bangkok, ThailandLumpini Park, Bangkok, Thailand
x
Lumpini Park, Bangkok, Thailand
Lumpini Park, Bangkok, Thailand
However, PDRC protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said Tuesday he would never negotiate with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, accusing the government of links to the gunmen involved in the recent bloody attacks.

The PDRC has been campaigning since November, using acts of civil disobedience in a bid to force the prime minister to resign and allow for reforms before fresh elections are held.

  • Pro-government supporters protest as they build a barricade to block the gate of National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014.
  • Pro-government supporters dump sand to build a barricade in front of the gate of National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014. 
  • A Thai soldier lies under a truck to take a nap at National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014. 
  • A police officer watches pro-government supporters building a barricade to block the gate of National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014.
  • Protesters chant slogans in support of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her government outside the gate of the National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014.
  • A pro-government supporter passes t-shirts with portraits of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her self-exiled brother Thaksin at the gate of the National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014. 
  • Soldiers walk outside the National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014.
  • A government supporter shouts slogans during a rally outside the National Anti-Corruption Commission office in Nonthaburi province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Feb. 27, 2014. 
  • The body of one of the siblings killed in a bomb blast near an anti-government protest site on Feb. 23 is prepared for a funeral at a Buddhist temple, Bangkok, Feb. 24, 2014. 
  • Tayakorn Yos-ubon, left, the father of two children killed in a bomb attack on Feb. 23 at an anti-government protest site, holds their portrait as he waits with a monk for their bodies at a hospital in Bangkok, Feb. 24, 2014.


In a weekend of violence that shocked many in the country, gunmen opened fire indiscriminately and threw grenades at an anti-government protest rally in Rayong, killing a five year old girl, and injuring dozens. A later attack in central Bangkok killed two children shopping near a protest rally site.

Panitan Wattanayagorn is a political scientist and former spokesman for the government when it was led by the now opposition Democrat Party. He said the recent talks are part of government efforts to ease pressure on the governing Pheu Thai led administration.

"Pheu Thai is planning to extend the longevity of the administration by selecting a new replacement for Yingluck from the Cabinet members," Wattanayagorn explained. "They will try and probe that kind of option by talking to some of the more flexible PDRC leaders like the monk [Luang Pu Buddha Issara]."

The talks come after the collapse of earlier efforts to negotiate with Yingluck's older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in exile to avoid a jail term for corruption, but who remains a big influence behind the government.

Analysts said Thaksin has rejected talks without the return of his seized money and a new hearing into his corruption case.

Kraisak Choonhavan, a member of the opposition Democrat Party and former senator, said Thaksin's conditions represent a major impasse. "[Thaksin] has agreed to a national reconciliation government - obviously the resignation of his sister [Yingluck] but he put a position that is untenable - that his money be returned or that matter has to be put forth in a normal court with one judge and not rule by the Supreme Court," he stated. "Obviously, this is an impossibility, an impasse."

The fears of further violence led this week to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to offer his offices to mediate in the conflict. Both the government and opposition supporters have welcomed the offer, calling for the U.N. to act urgently.

Smarn Lertwongrath, a senior member of the Pheu Thai Party, said such an intervention may save lives.

"The EU [European Union] and USA - most of the leaders understand the real situation in Thailand. If they push a little bit harder Ban Ki Moon can be a success as a 'compromiser' anyhow.    If people in [the] USA or EU - if they back Ban Ki Moon, I think it will save some lives anyhow."

Since the political conflict erupted in November, more than 20 people have died and over 700 injured, with Thai security and political analysts fearing further attacks before political tensions subside.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid