Around Asia: State of emergency declared in Thailand

In Other News - January 23rd, 2014
thailand-state-of-emergency

The embattled government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has declared a state of emergency in and around Bangkok as sporadically violent protests descended on the Thai capital.

The 60-day emergency rule was declared in Bangkok and surrounding provinces Tuesday to prevent the raging protests aimed at overthrowing Yingluck’s regime from escalating.

The decree would come into force from Wednesday but would not crack down on protesters who occupied key government offices and banks in the capital, said the Thai labor minister.

It allows security agencies wide-ranging to impose curfews, detain suspects without charge, censor media, ban political gatherings and declare areas off-limits.

“We need it because the protesters have closed government buildings, banks and escalated the situation, which has caused injuries and deaths,” Chalerm Yoobamrung said. “The government sees the need to announce the emergency decree to keep the situation under control.”

The decree will “allow the democratic process and Thailand to move forward,” Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Thailand’s foreign minister said.

Protesters vowing not to stop demonstrating until Yingluck steps down has blockaded several government buildings, including her own office known as Government House. But Yingluck insisted that her government has no intention of retaliating against the protesters.

“We will use peaceful negotiations with the protesters in line with international standards… We have told the police to stick with international standards, to be patient with the protesters,” Yingluck stated.

A spate of bombings that tore through anti-government rallies in the capital has left dozens injured and at least one man dead. Police said fragmentation grenades were thrown from a window into a crowd marching through the streets of Bangkok during a protest on Friday. Twin blasts shook Sunday’s demonstrations near the occupied Victory Monument, wounding 28 people.

Yingluck, accused by anti-government protesters as a puppet of his brother and former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, dissolved parliament and called snap elections to be held on February 2 in an attempt to quell protests.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: adaptorplug/Flickr