Protesters Push Back Against Thai Coup
By Steve Tickner 26 May 2014
BANGKOK — Protestors against the Thai military’s staging of a coup d’état last week took to the streets of Bangkok over the weekend, denouncing the seizure of power and demanding that democratic governance be restored in the Southeast Asian nation. The protestors came out in defiance of the ruling junta’s ban on political gatherings of more than five people, and an unknown number of demonstrators were taken into custody in Bangkok on Saturday. Though some people were arrested and scuffles between protestors and riot shield-wielding soldiers did break out over the weekend, the unrest so far has not reached the level of violence that accompanied a crackdown in 2010 of “red shirts” loyal to former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Nearly 100 people were killed and thousands injured in that crackdown.
Thaksin was deposed in Thailand’s last military coup, in 2006, but his political influence remains and the turmoil currently roiling the country first began as a push by an anti-government movement opposed to the rule of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the sister of Thaksin, who was removed from power on abuse of power charges earlier this month. The new military government, which calls itself the National Council for Peace and Order, has warned that future protests may be met with a harsher hand by soldiers in the capital and elsewhere.