Thai protesters launch Bangkok 'shutdown'

2014-01-13 10:47
Thai anti-government protesters gather at Lat Phrao intersection during a rally in Bangkok. (Nicolas Asfouri, AFP)

Thai anti-government protesters gather at Lat Phrao intersection during a rally in Bangkok. (Nicolas Asfouri, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bangkok - Tens of thousands of Thai opposition protesters occupied major streets in central Bangkok on Monday in an attempted "shutdown" of the capital, escalating a campaign to unseat the embattled premier.

The demonstrators want Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to resign to make way for an appointed government that would oversee electoral reforms to curb the political dominance of her billionaire family and tackle a wider culture of money politics.

Thousands of flag-waving protesters, some wearing T-shirts with slogans such as "Bangkok Shutdown" and "Thai Uprising 2014", massed at key intersections in the city, including outside a major shopping mall that was set on fire during deadly political unrest in 2010.

The protesters have vowed to occupy parts of the capital until they win their fight. They have vowed to disrupt the February election, saying it will only return Thaksin's allies to power without reforms first.

A hardcore faction of the anti-government movement has also threatened to besiege the stock exchange and even the kingdom's air traffic control if Yingluck does not step down within days.

"It's going to be very volatile", warned Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a former Thai diplomat and associate professor at the centre for Southeast Asian studies at Japan's Kyoto University.

A people's revolution

"In a way there is no turning back for the protesters, they have come too far", he added.

The protests are the latest chapter in a years-old political crisis that has gripped Thailand since Yingluck's older brother, fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by royalist generals in 2006.

The protests were initially triggered by a failed amnesty bill that could have allowed Thaksin to return from self exile without going to jail.

The turmoil comes as the country quietly braces for the end of revered but ailing King Bhumibol Adulyadej's more than six-decade reign.

The demonstrators say they want to rid Thailand of the "Thaksin regime", but deny accusations they are seeking to provoke another military coup.

"This is a people's revolution", said protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who faces a murder charge in connection with a deadly military crackdown on mass political rallies when he was deputy premier in 2010.

In the eyes of the protesters, Yingluck is "no longer prime minister", he told reporters while leading a huge crowd of supporters on a march through the capital.

Authorities say they are ready to declare a state of emergency if there is fresh unrest, and roughly 20 000 police and soldiers were due to be deployed for security, although there was little sign of them on the streets.

The government has not tried to stop the demonstrators taking over parts of the city, and Suthep has promised to retreat if the protests descend into "civil war".

Growing violence

Some local residents voiced fears that the action would hurt their livelihoods, particularly if tourists stay away during what is usually peak season.

"Of course it affects me. I'm very stressed", said hair salon owner Tong, aged 69. "No customers are coming now as my regular customers cannot drive here."

Eight people, including a policeman, have been killed and dozens injured in street violence since the protests began over two months ago.

Fanning tensions, several shots were fired in a drive-by shooting at the headquarters of the opposition Democrat Party early on Monday, while elsewhere a protest security guard was shot and wounded in a quarrel, police said.

Police said there were 12 hospitals, 28 hotels, 24 schools and 5 fire stations within the areas affected by the shutdown.

Most people appeared to have opted to leave their cars at home and rely on public transport instead.

The shutdown has sparked panic buying among some residents and the US embassy has advised stockpiling a two weeks' supply of food, water and medicine.

Smaller rallies have been held in the capital to back the February election and oppose the shutdown, while government supporters planned to gather in various locations in northern Thailand on Monday.

Read more on:    yingluck shinawatra  |  thaksin shinawatra  |  thailand

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go! - shop online today

Save up to 40% on outdoor accessories!

Tents, sleeping, day packs and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Month End Madness Sale!

Save up to 60% on across a wide range of goods from books to electronics, DVDs and many more. Sale end 31 January 2015. Shop now!

Valentine’s Day gifts – 14 Feb!

Gifts to spoil him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off fragrances

Get 30% off fragrances for him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off All Textbooks

Save up to 30% off an extensive range of prescribed textbooks for all major universities and FET colleges. Shop Now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


There is a tendency to be too fixed on a set way of doing things today. You may get challenged and the best approach is to keep more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.