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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid