Thai police have called for anti-government protesters to vacate the
main airports in Bangkok, which the group seized earlier this week. Ron
Corben has this report from Bangkok, where the government has declared
a state of emergency around the airports.
anti-government protesters occupying the international and domestic
airports in the capital were bracing Friday against efforts by security
forces to end the occupation.
Leaders of the People's Alliance
for Democracy on Friday said they remain determined to press on with
the protest despite the threat of police action and a growing loss of
The police say they want to negotiate with the
PAD, but it is possible they will use force to clear the terminals.
There is concern about violence, particularly because there are
children among the protesters.
Sunai Pasuk, the Thai representative for Human Rights Watch, says the government realizes the world is watching the situation.
one I believe in the outside world and the majority of the Thai public
- no one is siding with the PAD. [But] they don't want to see a
massacre at Don Muang and Suvanabhumi airport. The police need to take
incremental steps," he said.
Sunai says the government is
offering the PAD an exit strategy by allowing the alliance to return to
the government house compound which it seized in late August.
they want to continue the protest - well go ahead - and this is a very
deliberate decision not to declare a state of emergency at the
government house as well. The government has thought through very
carefully this time by providing an exit and if the PAD still refuses
to take this opportunity then things can get [a] little ugly," he said.
of travelers have been stranded by the protest, which is costing the
economy millions of dollars in lost revenue. The airport blockades
particularly hurt the tourism industry, a cornerstone of the Thai
The government is using airports just outside Bangkok
to move passengers, but only a limited number of flights have taken
off. Efforts also are under way to transport up to five thousand Thai
Muslims traveling to Saudi Arabia for the Haj.
Thursday Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat declared a state of emergency
at the airports. He has rejected calls by the military and the PAD for
him to resign.
Around the city this week there have been
sporadic outbursts of violence between the PAD and government
supporters. An anti-government TV station and a pro-government
community radio station have suffered attacks.
Parboonpart is the manager of the community radio station, run by a
taxi radio service. He expects police to move against the PAD protest
He says extra police have been brought in from
the provinces and they will move quickly and once the airports are
reopened it will be better for the nation.
The PAD accuses Mr.
Somchai of acting as a proxy for former Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra, who fled Thailand in August in the face of corruption
charges. He was ousted in a coup two years ago.
speculate that the military may stage a coup, although senior military
officers have denied it plans to unseat the government. Pro-Thaksin
supporters have vowed to challenge the army if there is a coup.