Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The leader of the Thai military junta and current premier Prayuth Chan-Ocha has announced the strengthening of security measures in Bangkok, after two handmade bombs exploded last night's near a luxury shopping center in the capital. The rudimentary bombs were placed on a walkway connecting an overhead train line to Paragon shopping mall. Police have opened an investigation into the attack, which resulted in the wounding of a person. However intelligence sources believe the bombs seemed intended to create panic rather than kill people.
It was the first bomb attack in Bangkok since Prime Minister Prayuth imposed martial law and gained power, in a white coup last May. He has neither excluded nor confirmed a politically motivation behind the attacks but has assured that will do "everything possible to maintain security."
Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda stressed that "the bombs did not intend to kill", but the goal was to "create confusion". The premier added that this story confirms "that we still need martial law ... there are still bad people disrupting the peace. We must find ways to severely punish them".
In addition, the head of government and the military junta has clarified that there will be no discussion on new elections until the "reform" (never specified in detail) of the political system are fully implemented and the process of reconciliation completed. These statements have drawn criticism from Western governments and pro-human rights associations, which speak of a strengthening of censorship and a systematic reduction of personal freedoms.
In recent days, the Thai military junta imposed the cancellation of a seminar on media and press freedom in the country, in the context of a growing repression towards dissent and opposition. Censorship is quite clearly a new attack of the military junta against opposition and civil rights, after the impeachment and trial of former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and sentencing to two years in prison of Jatuporn Prompanm, leader of the Red Shirts.
Thailand's crisis began in 2005, as major clashes broke out between "red shirted" pro-Shinawatra protesters, drawn especially from the countryside and among the poor, and the "yellow shirted" supporters of the Democrat Party, which represents Thailand's upper and middle classes, as well as the capital's elite, led in parliament by former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
In the spring of 2010, confrontations between protesters and police degenerated, leaving about a hundred people dead. This was followed by a political process and new elections that saw the temporary return to power of the Shinawatra family.
Still things remained deadlocked and last May, the military intervened to stop street protests that had left at least 27 dead, ousting Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's sister, who had won the previous election by a wide margin.
Although nothing is known about the nature of future political reforms, the country remains in the hands of the military with, as prime minister, the head of the Armed Forces who is tasked with reforming the state, a situation that could easily move the country towards further authoritarian rule.
The current prime minister was in fact responsible for the bloody crackdown in 2010. Since then, and this despite the many dead, no member of the armed forces was ever held accountable for it.