Monday, April 13, 2009

UK Foreign Office warning about travel to Thailand

Before I head off out of the city for the Songkran holiday, and further to all my previous posts about the sudden upsurge in political troubles here in Thailand, I thought I'd share this with you that just appeared in Yahoo!:

Warning to Britons over Thai unrest

The UK Foreign Office has warned against travel to Bangkok and Thailand as the Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency.

Within hours, 49 people had been hurt as anti-government protesters clashed with soldiers in the pre-dawn darkness of Bangkok.

The confrontation was the first serious clash between the demonstrators and security forces since protests surged last week.

TV footage showed injured people being taken away as soldiers in full combat gear secured the area at the Din Daeng motorway junction to the north of the city.

Earlier, anti-government protesters had gone about the capital unchecked, with angry mobs commandeering buses to barricade major road junctions.

Dozens of men furiously smashed cars which they thought were carrying the prime minister as he fled the interior ministry having made the emergency decree. They used poles, a ladder and even flower pots as nearby police in riot gear stood by doing nothing.

On Friday, the protesters forced the cancellation of a 16-nation Asian summit being hosted in Thailand. In an embarrassment for the government, hundreds of demonstrators stormed the summit venue and the leaders had to be evacuated by helicopter.

The state of emergency is supposed to ban gatherings of more than five people and forbid reporting that is considered threatening to public order. But following its introduction, ousted Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra called for a revolution.

"Now that they have tanks on the streets, it is time for the people to come out in revolution. And when it is necessary, I will come back to the country," he said in a telephoned message to followers who surrounded the prime minister's office.

Demonstrators claim the PM's four-month-old government took power illegitimately. They believe the military, judiciary and other unelected officials are undermining democracy by interfering in politics.
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This is all starting to get way out of control now - unreported above is that there has also been trouble in some cities in both northern and north-eastern Thailand - the government needs to try and calm things down by entering into a proper peaceful dialogue with the protest leaders. Surely trying to crack down on them, in what is supposed to be a free democratic country, will only make things worse? I hope that this all ends peacefully with no fatalities.

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