Monday, December 2, 2013

Thailand: Update--Political Unrests in Bangkok, Three Killed, 103 Injured

According to The Daily Mail, foreign tourists have been warned to avoid all "protests, political gatherings and demonstrations" following a series of violent clashes in Thailand, particularly the capital of Bangkok.

The demonstrations, which have been taking place in Bangkok for the past eight days, had been largely peaceful until violence broke out on December 1.

Thousands of anti-government protestors descended on the capital, hurling rocks, bottles and "Molotov cocktails" at riot officers as they attempted to storm government buildings.

The police responded with volleys of rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons. It was the first time police have used force since the protests began.

More than 2,500 military personnel were deployed to tackle the clashes, which became so violent that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, 46, was forced to flee her offices at Government House to a nearby compound.

Three people were killed and 103 people were injured at a large pro-government rally in a stadium in northeast Bangkok.

Some of Bangkok's biggest shopping malls were closed and the government urged the capital's ten million residents to remain indoors overnight.
COMMENT: The violence continued today as stone-throwing protesters battled through clouds of police tear gas in a renewed attempt to seize the PM's office at Government House and other key government buildings. 

Any further deterioration of public safety is likely to deter foreign visitors from visiting Thailand by the millions which contributes roughly 10% of Thailand's formidable $602 billion economy.

The area has some of Bangkok's main tourist attractions such as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho temple, the Bangkok Zoo and the backpacker area of Khao San Road.

The protesters, whose original objective was to counter an amnesty bill that would have permitted the PM's brother and former PM, Thaksin Shinawatra, 64, a billionaire telecom magnate to return to Thailand. Since 2006, he has been in exile in Dubai, hoping to return to power.

Unfortunately, because the incumbent PM's sister is using her party's majority to strengthen her behind-the-scenes power to help her brother, protesters now want the Shinawatras out of Thai politics, as the amnesty bill would render Thaksin immune from prosecution.

It should be noted that Thaksin was ousted in a military-backed coup in 2006 and is wanted in Thailand on corruption charges.

The main ongoing protest area situated along Rachadamnoen Avenue including Democracy Monument in Bangkok has now expanded to include protests at a number of government buildings in central Bangkok. There have also been demonstrations at provincial halls in many provinces outside Bangkok, including Phuket.

Protest leader, Suthep Thaugsuban, 64, a former member of Parliament, said he has met with the Shinawatra and given her a two-day deadline to resign.

This report will be updated as new information emerges in Bangkok.