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.
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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs