Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Spain's El Hierro to become world's first self-powered island

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bellwether for what not to do

Read more

ENCORE!

Luc Besson back in action with Scarlett Johansson in 'Lucy'

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Iraq: Kurdish forces fight to protect Yazidis

Read more

DEBATE

Libya unrest: National Assembly asks for UN help to dissolve militias

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

#IceBucketChallenge and hashtag activism

Read more

  • Ex-PM Juppé announces bid for 2017 French presidential race

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • A new view on Normandy landings, 70 years on

    Read more

  • Dozens killed as landslides strike Japan’s Hiroshima

    Read more

  • Deadly airstrikes hit Gaza as ceasefire with Israel collapses

    Read more

  • Tentative peace in Ferguson despite second fatal shooting

    Read more

  • Suspected Ebola cases in Austria, new drug raises hopes

    Read more

  • WWII anniversary highlights best - and worst - of Paris police

    Read more

  • Headscarf at the beach sparks French MEP’s fury

    Read more

  • Iraqi army clashes with militants in Tikrit after retaking key dam

    Read more

  • Video: Life in under-siege Donetsk

    Read more

  • Racism, riots and police violence: USA under scrutiny

    Read more

  • ‘Let it be’: Londoners sick of Abbey Road tourists

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Thousands of police deployed as 'Red Shirts' launch protest

© Afp

Video by Sanam SHANTYAEI

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-06-01

Thailand’s ruling junta deployed thousands of security forces on the streets of Bangkok on Sunday to thwart a round of small-scale protests planned by the country’s “Red Shirts” denouncing the May 22 military coup.

Authorities said about 5,700 soldiers and police were deployed Sunday at key intersections in Bangkok to stop demonstrators from amassing. Hundreds of demonstrators came out anyway to face off against scores of police and soldiers with riot shields.

The junta has issued stern warnings against demonstrations but it had not previously employed force to stop them.

The protest fizzled after a couple of hours, but about 60 of the demonstrators regrouped down the road near the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. Soldiers marched in formation toward the protesters until the demonstration broke up.

Sunday’s demonstrations were organised by veteran social activist Sombat Boonngam-anong, a member of the “Red Shirts” movement that backs ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra as well as her brother, deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

Sombat, who has refused to reply to a summons ordering him to report to an army base, has taunted the military by posting a call to protest on his Facebook page. He asked people to come in disguise for a “mask party” to protest against the coup – protesters have started wearing masks with the faces of political personalities, including the country’s new ruler, army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha.

In Red Shirt strongholds in northern Thailand, troops have been conducting raids, taking local leaders away and searching for weapons. Many have fled to neighbouring countries.

Thailand's military seized power on May 22, suspending the constitution, curtailing civil liberties under martial law and imposing a nightly curfew, saying it had to restore order after seven months of demonstrations against Yingluck's regime that triggered sporadic violence.

It is the 19th coup or attempted coup in Thailand's modern history. A bloodless military takeover overthrew Yingluck's brother Thaksin in 2006.

Thailand has been relatively calm since the army took power, but the junta that took power has launched a major campaign to suppress dissent, rounding up scores of political figures – including prime minister Yingluck – as well as academics and activists. Yingluck was later released.

The army has effectively neutralised the movement’s top leaders, detaining them and forcing them to sign agreements promising they will no longer take part in activities that could destabilise the nation.

Since the coup, small groups of pro-democracy protesters have come out nearly every day, marching through Bangkok and sometimes scuffling with soldiers. No injuries have been reported so far.

The protesters say they should have the right to express themselves freely.

“I am here because I don’t want a coup. I want elections and democracy,” said a 66-year-old female protester who asked to be identified only as Ratchana because of concerns over being detained.

“This is the 21st century,” she said. “There shouldn’t be any coups, but they still keep happening ... because Thais are afraid” to speak out.

Ratchana was one of several hundred protesters who gathered on an elevated walkway beside the Terminal 21 shopping mall, chanting “Freedom!” and “Democracy!”

Despite the latest political upheaval, life has continued largely as normal in most of Bangkok and the rest of the country, with tourists still relaxing at beach resorts and strolling through Buddhist temples in the capital and elsewhere.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

 

Date created : 2014-06-01

  • THAILAND

    No new elections for 15 months, Thai junta chief says

    Read more

  • THAILAND

    Anti-coup protestors defy march ban in Thailand

    Read more

  • THAILAND

    Thai military seizes power, suspends constitution

    Read more

COMMENT(S)