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  • » 05/11/2010, 00.00


    Forty-three Asian NGOs call for a “peaceful solution” to Thailand’s political crisis

    Nirmala Carvalho

    Demonstrators want to see Thailand’s deputy prime minister charged for his alleged role in the 10 April violence. The government responds saying protesters’ demands are not clear. A group of Asian NGOs sends a letter to the Thai Foreign Ministry, expressing their “concern” for the situation. An Indian activist urges the parties to respect international legal standards.
    New Delhi (AsiaNews) – A group of 43 Asian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) wrote a letter to the Foreign Ministry of Thailand, urging the government to avoid violence to end the political crisis that has paralysed the country for the past two months. They are concerned about the tense situation, and strongly condemn the recent violence in the streets of Bangkok, calling on both sides to find “a peaceful solution”.

    Leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) announced that protests would continue indefinitely. Recognisable by the red shirts worn by its members, the UDD support ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who is currently in exile. Its leaders vowed they would not stop their occupation of the capital’s commercial district unless Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban reports to the Crime Suppression Division.

    Today, Mr Suthep appeared before the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to explain his role in the recent violence, but for demonstrators, that was not good enough; they want police to formally charge him.

    In the meantime, the Thai government responded to the UDD’s red map, the proposal the group made yesterday to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva after the latter issued an ultimatum, saying it was not clear.

    Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the government did its best to end the crisis. “It's not clear to me what they (the red-shirt protesters) are demanding so we can't respond to something we don't understand."

    Other countries in the region are concerned by Thailand’s ongoing political crisis. Many Asian NGOs are also very worried, so much so that they wrote to the Foreign Ministry.

    In their letter, the advocacy groups have called on the authorities to respect international legal standards and establish an independent panel to look into the violence of 10 April, which left 25 dead and more than 900 injured in Bangkok. Likewise, they criticised the government for blocking ten satellite TV stations and websites, which in their view constitutes a step backward in the country’s democratic development, this despite the authorities’ use of emergency law, which naturally restricts certain rights.

    The Indian-based Peoples Vigilance Committee for Human Rights (PVCHR) is among the 43 Asian NGOs that signed the letter. Its leader, Lenin Raghuvanshi, and those of other NGOs met UDD leaders, urging them to engage the government in peaceful talks.

    “Red-shirt protest is well organised. We urged red-shirt parties to get down to non-violent talks with the government”. However, “The red-shirts insist that the government is illegal,” Raghuvanshi said.

    During his talks with UDD (red-shirt) leaders, he told them that the “international community is watching very closely developments,” adding “nothing and no one will ever justify or condone the use of violence.”

    NGO leaders also appealed to the Thai government to “respect international standards”.

    Finally, Lenin Raghuvanshi relayed an amusing anecdote. He said that the night of their visit, they saw “a group of soldiers singing and entertaining the red-shirts”.

    Still, protesters “are adamant” in their protests. For this reason, “it is important for international organisations to show them their solidarity.”

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    See also

    26/05/2010 THAILAND
    In Bangkok, thousands pray for peace
    Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus gather at dawn at ten points in the capital to renew an appeal for reconciliation. Analysts say divisions are deep; only major socio-political reforms can re-unify the country. The red shirts’ surrender does not mean peace.

    20/05/2010 THAILAND
    Three-night curfew in Bangkok as fear of more violence lingers
    The authorities have cleared the area occupied by the red-shirts. Some opposition leaders appeal for peace after surrendering to police. About 35 buildings were set on fire in the Thai capital, including the stock exchange. Yesterday’s clashes left 14 people dead. Overall, 82 people lost their lives since the protest began.

    14/05/2010 THAILAND
    Army begins final offensive against demonstrators in Bangkok, so far one dead, 12 wounded
    The army is trying to clear the area under red-shirt control. Three reporters are wounded during the clashes. Demonstrators set bus and tyres on fire. Two army vehicles are torched. Suspended army officer who backed protesters is in come after being hit by a sniper. ACHR director slams the Thai government for the violence.

    13/05/2010 THAILAND
    Army surrounding red shirts as crisis hits the stock market
    The authorities are getting ready for a showdown with demonstrators who vow to fight on. Protest leader says, “We will fight with our bare hands." Thai prime minister withdraws offer to hold elections on 14 November, pledges “to restore normalcy as soon as possible.” Markets are down as fears grow with regard to tourism.

    26/04/2010 THAILAND
    Yellow Shirts call for martial law as a Catholic colonel is buried
    To pro-government movement says it will defend the country against the Red Shirts. Prime Minister Abhisit rejects opposition proposal for elections in three months time. AsiaNews remembers Christopher Romklao Thuwatham, a 44-year-old army colonel, who died during violent clashes in the capital on 10 April.

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