Around Asia: Demonstrations shake gov’t offices in Bangkok

In Other News - November 26th, 2013

Hundreds of protesters stormed into government ministries Tuesday, escalating efforts to oust Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and topple the network of her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Despite the imposition of a special security law in Bangkok, demonstrators besieged several more government offices, including the interior, tourism, transport and agriculture ministries.

“We have to leave because they (the protesters) will cut the utilities,” Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Pureesrisak told AFP.

Demonstrators also gave officials at the Interior Ministry an ultimatum to leave within an hour, according to an AFP report.

Protesters also surrounded the finance and foreign ministries overnight, led by former opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Suthep Thaugsuban, before occupying the other ministries on Tuesday.

Thaugsuban, who oversaw a deadly crackdown on Thaksin’s supporters in 2010, urged protesters and civil servants to join what he called a “people’s revolution.”

No major clashes have been reported and authorities plan to negotiate with protesters to get them to leave the compounds, police spokesman Piya Uthayo said.

Yingluck Shinawatra, believed to be a puppet of her brother who was ousted in a military coup in 2006 for alleged corruption, appealed for an end to “mob rule”.

“Everybody must obey the law and not use mob rule to upstage the rule of law,” she told reporters as she arrived at parliament on Tuesday.

She reiterated an vow that authorities would “absolutely not use violence” after invoking the Internatl Security Act late Monday. The security law gives authorities additional powers to block routes, impose a curfew, ban gatherings and carry out searches.

“Even though we will enforce the law, I want to confirm that we will not use violence,” Yingluck said, adding that she’s willing to talk to Thaugsuban.

Thailand has seen a turbulent political past. In 2010, more than 90 people were killed in violent protests between “red shirt” opponents of the then Democratic Party “yellow shirts”. The massive rally paralyzed the capital as protesters occupied public places, such as the airport.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: hadsie/Flickr