Freitag, 31. Januar 2014

Bangkok unrest - before the elections

Zur deutschen Version

Bangkok Shutdown - a letdown beyond compare

In the night from Sunday to Monday, January 13, 2014 , Suthep and his PDRC (People's Democratic Reform Committee ) started their " Bangkok Shutdown" campaign. The goal was actually to block major traffic arteries in Bangkok, to bring life to a standstill and to create chaos (see also: -of- hopeein.html).
The pressure thus generated should force the caretaker government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign and create a power vacuum, which should then be filled by the non-democratically elected reform committee and later by the so-called "People's Council". This would have also prevented the elections scheduled for February 2nd.

But all the action proved to be one huge letdown for the government opponents. While each of the seven main stages of the PDRC were visited by several thousand demonstrators on the first two or three days, the number of protesters dropped rapidly over the following days and weeks. At daytime sometimes less than 20 protesters gathered in front of certain protest stages like that one at Asok intersection..

Stage at Lad Phrao intersection, 13.01.2014

In front of Asok stage, 13.01.2014

Lumpini stage, 14.01.2014

Asok, 15.01.2014

Even the feared chaos failed to materialize (aside from the permanent traffic jams because of blocked intersections). There is also no supply emergenc in the capital. Many Bangkokians had surprisingly quickly arranged themselves with the situation and lead their lives on as usual. In the meantime, a desperate PDRC tried to keep the protesters in a good mood with entertainment programs, for example with singing protest leaders and Aerobics for beginners.

Aerobic for beginners

Singing Speaker at Asok

The Democrat Party - soon history?

Thailand's largest opposition party, the Democrat Party ( DP), had, after a moment's hesitation and internal discussions, joined the anti-government protests of Suthep's PDRC (already joined by other former members of the Democrat Party). On 08 December 2013, the DP members of parliament announced that they would resign their seats. Because Thailand's legislature wouldn't have a quorum anymore Prime MinisterYingluck announced on 09 December that she would dissolve parliament and to call for snap elections which were eventually scheduled for 2nd February 2014. Since then she would take up the position as a caretaker prime minister as stated by royal decree. The Democrat Party decided on December 21st 2013 to boycott the upcoming elections.(

And this decision was probably one of the biggest mistakes in the nearly 68-year history of the Democrat Party (founded in 1946 by conservative royalists) .

In April 2006, the Democrats had already boycotted the elections after they at first had supported the demand of the PAD to set up an interim government appointed by the king in March 2006. But King Bhumibol refused to establish an unelected government in the following terms (26 April 2006): "Asking for a Royally-appointed prime minister is undemocratic. It is, pardon me, a mess. It is irrational".

Now the Democrats might face their dissolution. Because in Thailand it is a general rule that if a political party, for any reason whatsoever, does not participate twice in an election within a period of eight years, it must be resolved in accordance with the law .
Obviously it must be assumed that in December 2013 the Democrat Party was convinced that the government of Prime Minister Yingluck would collapse soon and would be quickly replaced by the reform committee or the so-called "People's Council". Therefor the elections would have been postponed indefinitely .

Whether out of ignorance, arrogance or plain and simple stupidity: this wrong decision means with some certainty the end of the Democrat Party - if not the courts, as so often in recent weeks, ignore the applicable law in this country and bow the laws in favor of the Government opponents. Regarding the violations of Thailand's Constitution and applicable law by the Constitutional Court , I would like to recommend the following link:

This error of judgment of the Constitutional Court also serves the NACC (National Anti- Corruption Commission of Thailand) as the opening pitch to proceed against the ruling Pheu Thai. On this subject, I recommend the following link:

It is obvious, that some institutions are already preparing a judicial coup in case that Suthep and his followers should fail with their protests to topple the goverment.

Violence and early voting

Unfortunately, violent attacks increased sharply (especially in Bangkok) in recent weeks. Since December more than 20 attacks were carried out with bombs and hand grenades. At least 10 people died in shootings and explosions and about 500 were injured. Among the victims were police officers as well as government opponents and supporters of the elections. 

After the bomb attack at the victory monument Sunday, 19th January.

While at the beginning the assaults most often took place late in the evening or in the early morning hours, the attacks are also occurring now in broad daylight, such as the bombings on 19 January 2014 near the Victory Monument or the murder of one of the PDRC leaders (Sutin Tharatin) on 26 January 2014 during the blockade of a polling station in Bang Na. The fact is: many people's nerves are on edge. Demagogues on all sides incite hatred and aggression. Increasingly, the situation escalates because of banalities: A plainclothes police officer refuses to be searched by a PDRC-guard, who then immediately summoned other bats to beat up the officer. The policeman tried to escape, injured one of the guards by a shot from his service weapon but was then overwhelmed by the mob and almost beaten to death. Only because of  the courageous intervention of paramedics and other protesters the policeman has escaped a lynching by the mob.

During the early voting there were also numerous attacks on both sides, as the opponents of the government were trying (in Bangkok they were doing extremely successful) to prevent voters from casting their ballots. They also blocked most of the polling stations in the capital. 
But the behaviour/the reactions of many voters clearly showed that Suthep and his mob, who are strongly convinced that Thailand is not ready for democracy, are wrong. In a nationwide survey, more than 80 % of all Thais have called for elections and stand by the current electoral law. Although many do not like the current government, they insist on their right to vote. 
At the Yannawa district office, for example, officials refused to open the gates for the voters after about 250 anti-government protesters prevented the election officials from opening the polling station in the early morning hours. Even after the protesters had long been gone, the polling station was not opened because the returning officer had fled and refused to return and to resume his work. Nevertheless, hundreds of voters waited for hours in front of the closed doors and insisted, unfortunately in vain, on their right to vote. Some officials showed courage and started on their own responsibility with the registration of electors present and entered their names on the electoral lists. At other places, voters crawled beneath the locked gates, climbed over walls or shouldered their way, holding their head high, through the screaming and riotous mob. These people have shown that the majority of Thais is ripe for democracy. Thailand can take a pride in these brave people whereas for Suthep and his followers I only feel disgust.

26.01.2014 at Yannawa disrict office.

26.01.2014 at Yannawa disrict office - respect my vote!

26.01.2014 at Yannawa disrict office - angry voters demand from the officials to do their duty.

26.01.2014 at Yannawa disrict office -voters searching for their names on the electoral lists.

26.01.2014 at Yannawa disrict office - courageous officers starting to register the voters.

26.01.2014 at Yannawa disrict office - angry voters insisting on their right to vote and show their identity cards.

26.01.2014 at Yannawa disrict office.

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