News / Asia

UN Chief Calls for End to Thai Political Violence

A Thai soldier photographs the crime scene following a bomb blast in Bangkok Feb. 23, 2014.
A Thai soldier photographs the crime scene following a bomb blast in Bangkok Feb. 23, 2014.
TEXT SIZE - +
Ron Corben
— United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is calling for an end to political violence in Thailand and respect for human rights and the rule of law.  At least 20 people have been killed and hundreds injured since the widespread protests began last year. The Thai Army chief has also urged talks after weekend attacks on anti-government protest sites left dozens injured and claimed the lives of at least three small children.

In his statement, Ban condemned the escalation of violence in Thailand and especially the loss of children's lives and for bloodshed to immediately end with those responsible brought to justice.

Ban's comments followed weekend attacks on anti-government protest sites.  On Sunday in central Bangkok a grenade was tossed into a crowd of shoppers at a protest site killing a four-year-old boy and severely wounding his six-year-old sister who later died.  Two other children remained in hospitals in intensive care.

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, says the escalation of violence has "crossed a threshold" and there is now the mobilizing of pro-government 'red shirt' supporters.

"We will see the situation becoming worse and much worse before it can improve. The violence has spread to other provinces - the ‘red shirts’ have mobilized. So I think the specter of a wider range of violence against the different sides and so on is going to increase," said Thitinan.

The ‘red shirt’ movement is aligned with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's government and supported Yingluck's older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin remains in exile to avoid a two year jail term for corruption.
 
On Sunday provincial leaders of the ‘red shirts,’ or United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, the UDD, announced plans to launch protests against any actions, including judicial verdicts, that may lead to Yingluck being forced to resign.

UDD leader, Thida Thavornseth, says the ‘red shirts’ are increasingly angered by the moves against the government and support given by unnamed military men last week against Thai police seeking to close down an anti-government protest site.

"The situation makes ‘red shirts’ very, very angry. So yesterday is the time we want the core leader from every province and umphur (village) to come and explain their idea about the strategy and tactics to fight. But, anyway, we are still in the policy that we're a peaceful movement," said Thida.

Thailand's latest crisis has deepened political fault lines. Thaksin remains popular in northern provinces while the anti-government movement draws its support from Bangkok and southern provinces led by a former lawmaker from the opposition Democrat Party.

Chulalongkorn University's Thitinan says escalating violence may result in military intervention in a bid to restore order.

"This is an unfolding tragedy. The mechanics are locked in and they are panning out in ways that no one seems able to prevent. So we are hoping for some kind of compromise behind the scenes somehow. The different sides have to step back from the brink otherwise we will see indiscriminate violence," said Thitinan.

Protests began in November against a government-backed law to grant an amnesty benefiting Thaksin and his return to Thailand. But then the situation escalated into efforts to unseat Yingluck's government. A February 2 national poll also failed to resolve the political crisis, leaving Thailand politically adrift and uncertain.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid