LIVE: Thailand anti-government protests paralyze Bangkok
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LIVE: Thailand anti-government protests paralyze Bangkok

We won’t be running a full live blog today, Tuesday, but here is a quick update on the events so far:

8.50pm: Protest leader Suthep just wrapped up a (rabble-)rousing speech at the besieged Finance Ministry, calling for protesters to target (but not occupy) all other ministries in Bangkok on Wednesday.

6.20pm: Earlier this afternoon, the Interior Ministry decided to shut down and gives all employees the day off tomorrow. The mob that have surrounded the ministry for most of the day have pledged not to occupy it, but instead will target other ministries on Wednesday.

4.03pm:

  3.56pm:

Associated Press:

BANGKOK (AP) — Anti-government protesters in Thailand vowed Tuesday to take control of state offices nationwide in their bid to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, escalating the biggest challenge she has faced since taking office.

Opposition-led protesters camped out overnight at the Finance and Foreign Ministries after storming their gates during a chaotic day of street rallies Monday. Both were closed Tuesday, along with the Agriculture Ministry, which told employees not to come to work to avoid nearby street protests in Bangkok.

On Tuesday, the main protest group appeared to have converted the Finance Ministry into its headquarters, and even declared Tuesday a “rest day.”

“Tomorrow there will be a nationwide movement,” Akanat Promphan, a protest spokesman told reporters inside the emptied Finance Ministry. He said the aim is to paralyze government operations by seizing offices and state agencies so they cannot be “used as a mechanism for the Thaksin regime.”

Thai protesters call for nationwide uprising, Associated Press, November 23

Meanwhile, the protesters moved to surround the Interior Ministry Tuesday, while the no confidence debate against the government began in Parliament with both opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and the prime minister speaking. The debate is expected to last two days before the vote on Thursday.

Bangkok Pundit rounds up Monday’s events: Suthep leads protesters in seizing Finance Ministry

Associated Press on PM Yingluck invoking the Internal Security Act Monday night: Thai leader invokes security law amid protests

 

MONDAY’S LIVE BLOG

At 8.30am this morning, anti-government protests in Bangkok, Thailand began again after crowds estimated at 100,000-plus rallied in the city on Sunday. The protesters marched to 13 separate protests across the city early Monday with the situation has become increasingly tense in the early afternoon. Here we catch up on the events of the day so far and will keep you updated throughout the evening.

+++All times in local Thai time (GMT+7)+++

 10.30pm: Closing words on today’s events by Siam Voices head writer Saksith Saiyasombut:

With the occupation of the Finance Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the Department of Public Relations, the anti-government protests have moved past the boiling point in their weeks of rallies, initially set off by an audacious ruling Pheu Thai Party, as they thought they could rush a flawed amnesty bill through parliament. Ever since it was struck down in the senate, the true intentions of the opposition’s campaign have been revealed, as they want nothing less than the government of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra toppled and the so-called “eradication” of the political influence by her brother and former prime minister Thaksin.

The mood and the pictures look all too familiar to the previous anti-Thaksin protests of 2006 and 2008 – an expression of frustration at the political system that in their view has been corrupted to the core by Thaksin Shinawatra and that it can be only solved by excluding him from the political process, despite that their main leader Suthep Thuagsuban has a dodgy history himself and that it was his group of 13 different rallies across the city that have started occupying the Finance Ministry. Also the intimidation and in one case also assault on journalists and other media representatives is inexcusable and will have negative ramifications on the perception of the protests – not that they’d rely on that very much.

It is now up to the government to redeem what has been a month full of setbacks that will either see a conclusion or just a stopgap with this week’s no-confidence debate in parliament. It is also up to both sides to prevent the escalation into violence.  For the past couple of years, a political vacuum has only been maintained with any attempts of reform being quashed – this vacuum has exploded again today and the next days will show how big the mess will be to clean up.

9.52pm: The Internal Security Act (ISA) NOT equal to a State of Emergency, but actually a step short of that. A previous post by Bangkok Pundit explains here it’s words and also adds that while on paper it is a “toothless tiger”, it comes down to the regulations that are applied to the ISA.

9.40pm: Prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra made a TV address and has extended the Internal Security Act across all the city of Bangkok, Nonthaburi and Bang Phli district in Samu Prakarn where the Suvarnabhumi Airport is. She also insisted that political problems should be dealt with in parliament and not on the streets

9.00pm: Protest leader Suthep Thuagsuban is making himself comfortable at his new base at the Finance Ministry…

8.17pm: Earlier this evening, the leaders of the red shirt umbrella organization UDD have took the stage at Rajamangala Stadium denouncing the occupation of ministries by Suthep’s protesters. The statement went on to demand that the government takes action against the occupants, whose campaign are being considered by the UDD as an attempt to “overthrow democracy”.

7.41pm: A summary on the situation at the Foreign Ministry by AP:

Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee says a group of protesters forced their way into the ministry premises Monday evening but promised not to enter its buildings. He was uncertain how many there were.

Thai protesters force way into Foreign Ministry“, Associated Press, November 25, 2013

7.36pm: Prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra is meeting with security officials:

7.30pm: Sondhi Limthongkul, former leader of the ultra-nationalist yellow aka the PAD shirts calls their followers to join the protests after the anti-government protest groups have joined their forces together during the weekend. Sondhi himself has been rather quiet since his and his co-leaders’ resignation and ever since that.

7.15pm: No incidents of violence have been reported as employees have left the Foreign Ministry and the occupying protesters are preparing to stay:

6.45pm: the Foreign Ministry is now being targeted as well:

6.07pm: Thai PBS is reporting that 16 countries have now issued travel advisories for Thailand, telling them to avoid protest areas.

6.03pm:

5.45pm:

At the Army headquarters, the protesters presented roses and whistles, which were accepted by three Army representatives on behalf of Army chief General Prayuth Chanocha. Akanat [Promphan, spokesperson for the Anti-Thaksin Network] also called on the Army to side with the people.

Protesters call for the army to take side“, The Nation, November 25, 2013

So far in this ongoing protest season, the armed forces have been remarkably quiet ever since the controversial amnesty bill until last Friday when…

Maj-Gen Surachart Jitjaeng, spokesman of the Defense Ministry’s Public Relations and Information Office, said (…) said rift was everywhere and deepened not only among politicians, but also media with conflicting news presentation, fabrications and bias. They seemed not to accept the view of each other but merely wanted to defeat and overcome another just for the interest of their own groups.’ (…)

He said that national conflict has developed throughout the past nine years and was deepening. It is the time now for  all these conflicts to end and all disputed parties coming out to face each other peacefully with talks as everyone shared the common love of their institutions and their country. He said the past history has reminded all Thais that whenever Thai people disintegrated and struggling for power emerging, disaster will ensue.

Armed Forces now calls for national unity before it is too late“, ThaiPBS English, November 22, 2013

5.20pm: A few more soundbites to add by Suthep: He regards the government’s rejection of the Constituional Court verdict as reason enough as a reason enough to declare this administration as “unlawful” and “needs to be done away” with and thus also rejects any possibility for talks and negotiations with them.

5.15pm: Protest leader Suthep Thuagsuban has just addressed the press at the besieged Finance Ministry. He triumphantly states that this is the “people’s decision”  to “take back power” and to “eradicate the country from the Thaksin regime”, beginning with the peaceful seizing (“not a single window was smashed!”) of the Finance Ministry as “Thaksin’s tool”. He also announced that a second stage will be set up there, while maintaining the main rally site at Democracy Monument. It looks like they’re in for the long haul.

4.30pm: Channel 3 anchor Sorayuth Suthassanachinda came out a second time to address the protesters and urged them “In order to be heard, you must express your views peacefully.” Furthermore, the crowd demanded him to blow a whistle – the tool of choice by the anti-govt protesters – and he actually did after repeatedly insisting that this was not a sign of partisanship.

4.25pm: Among the 13 rally sites, the protesters have targeted various free-TV stations – including the army-owned Channel 5, state-owned NBT (aka Ch 11) and Channel 3 – as they think that their rallies have been underreported or flat out ignored in the last few days and demand media to report “truthfully”. Footage from Channel 3 headquarters in downtown Bangkok showed their anchor Sorayuth Suthassanachinda coming out to greet and receiving flowers, as a channel representative thanked the protesters for being the “nicest mob” and got also received flowers. The protesters have vowed to leave the area when Sorayuth comes out again.

ThailandProtestNov25-621x327

An anti-government protester gives a rose to Thai police officer during a rally in Bangkok Monday. Pic: AP.

4.11pm: Meanwhile at Rajamangala Stadium in the North-East of Bangkok, the red shirts have been rallying since the weekend. By the looks of it there are considerably less supporters than the reportedly 60,000 last night:

3.28pm: Anti-government protesters outside the Public Relations Department:

2.47pm: Protesters listen to leader Suthep Thaugsuban after taking over the Budget Bureau:

2.10pm: An update on Nick Nostitz by the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand (FCCT)

FCCT president spoke to Nick Nostitz, the journalist assaulted today. He says his face hurts and he is VERY pissed off. Democrat MP Chumpon pointed him out from the protest stage calling him a “red shirt journalist” and urged the crowd to kick him out. He said it was a matter of seconds before the first fists hit him. He is filing charges and this rules out him covering the yellow protests from now on. He was then denounced on Thai TV by a member of the Thai press corps.

2pm: AP reports: Thai protesters enter Finance Ministry compound

 

1.20pm: Experienced photojournalist Nick Nostitz was attacked by anti-government protesters after being called a ‘red-shirt’ by stage speaker and former Democrat MP Chumpon. The tweets below include a photograph and reaction to the incident.

 

 

 

 

10am: Bangkok Pundit on reactions from the royal family and its representitives amid the ongoing protests: Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary: Don’t involve HM in politics

9.40am:

9am: Bangkok Pundit reviews Sunday’s rally: Over 100,000 anti-government protesters rally in Bangkok

8am: Tourists are advised to take extreme care in Bangkok today

7.45am: