Hundreds protest coup in Thai capital, some hurl rocks at police

Hundreds of supporters of Thailand’s deposed prime minister faced off against
police in the Thai capital during a rally demanding the resignation of
the military-backed government installed after last year’s coup.

Some protesters threw rocks, plastic bottles and chairs at police as they
marched Friday toward a large Bangkok park, Sanam Luang, where nearly
1,000 people gathered.

No injuries were reported and the protest carried on peacefully after the 20-minute showdown.

“The coup destroyed democracy in Thailand,” shouted one of the protest
leaders, Veera Musigapong, who was a former deputy leader of ousted
Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai party. “I hope this
is the last coup Thailand will ever see.”

Sanam Luang is where tens of thousands of people held regular protests last year
demanding Thaksin’s ouster. The protests climaxed in a military coup on
Sept. 19 while Thaksin was out of the country.

Friday’s demonstrators called for the resignation of the military-installed
interim government, and demanded elections be held immediately.

The government of interim Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has vowed to
step down after elections scheduled for the end of the year.

Veera and other former Thai Rak Thai executives also protested the
government’s move to block the launch of their new satellite television
station PTV, or People’s Television. Government-owned CAT Telecom has
refused to relay PTV’s signal to a satellite.

The government fears Thaksin may attempt a comeback.

Thaksin, in exile since the coup, has been traveling between his London residence and various Asian countries.

Thousands rally in Bangkok

At least 2,000 demonstrators from several social groups founded
after last year’s military takeover rallied at the Sanam Luang (Royal
Square) in Bangkok late Friday, demanding that democracy be restored in
Thailand as soon as possible.

The protest was led by television broadcaster PTV which has
recently been banned from broadcasting via satellite by the government
for reason that “the station was founded unlawfully.”

During early period of the protest, hundreds of full-gear
police and city police attempted to dismantle stage of the
demonstrators. However, they had to back off again after the protesters
threw plastic bottles and yelled at them.

Out of fear that the situation would escalate, police and city police just formed a barricade and stood still.

The authorities started surrounding the protesters at about 5 p. m. (1000 GMT) and backed off at about 6 p.m. (1100 GMT).

Bangkok city authorities earlier said that the PTV protesters
were not welcome to Sanam Luang because the field has been designated
for the Traditional Thai Sports Festival from this week until April 7.

The protesters were warned of police crackdown if they went ahead with the rally without permit.

Meanwhile, chief of the Council for National Security (CNS)
Sonthi Boonyaratkalin warned the protesters to strictly observe the law
and rally peacefully.

He said besides the police, the army had also been ordered to
be on stand by to cope with an untoward incident if the demonstration
at Sanam Luang Friday evening gets out of hand.

Recently, more and more rallies were held at weekends in
Bangkok. More than a dozen different groups have gathered together
hundreds to thousands of people, calling for an early general election.

Source: Xinhua

PTV to hold weekly anti-govt rallies

( – Operators of the pro-Thaksin
satellite channel People’s Television (PTV) will stage a rally again
next Friday, after managing to attract sizeable crowds yesterday at
Sanam Luang.

PTV executive Jakrapob Penkair said Saturday that he expected the
upcoming rally to draw about 10,000 supporters of deposed prime
minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The rally that was held on Friday attracted around 3,000 people,
including those who planned to take part in the sports festival that
was planned to be held at the venue.

Mr Jakrapob said they plan to hold a rally similar to this for another
three to four weeks to talk to supporters but denied that this was a
move to try to oust the government and the military’s Council for
National Security.

He also denied that operators try to tell supporters to wait for Mr
Thaksin’s return later this year. He said Mr Thaksin would definitely
return to Thailand but he cannot say when.

Meanwhile, CNS chairman Sonthi Boonyaratkalin said he was not worried
about the PTV’s protest, saying that people would soon get bored with
it because there was nothing interesting plus the weather is hot.

2,000 Thais rally against ruling military

Posted: 24 March 2007 0119 hrs

Photos 1 of 1

A Thai soldier stands guard in front of Shinawatra tower in Bangkok

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BANGKOK – About 2,000 Thais held an anti-military rally organised
by members of deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s political party
Friday, demanding an end to the military-installed government.

“We are against the coup. The military government should leave
now,” shouted the crowd, mostly middle-aged men and women, at Bangkok’s
Sanam Luang plaza as 900 policemen stood guard.

Several protesters held a picture of Thaksin, who has been living
in self-imposed exile abroad since a bloodless coup in September. He
was in New York when the military overthrew his twice-elected

“The military should leave politics. Surayud and Sonthi should get
out,” said one male protester, referring to army-backed Prime Minister
Surayud Chulanont, a former general, and ruling military leader General
Sonthi Boonyaratglin.

The protest, which followed an anti-coup rally on Sunday, was
peaceful, police said. The weekend demonstration also drew at least
2,000 people.

“Police are not going to take action as the rally is unlikely to turn violent,” said Police Major General Manit Wongsomboon.

The demonstration was organised by employees at a new Thai
television channel set up by members of Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai (Thais
Love Thais) party.

Earlier in the month a state telecom blocked the channel, People’s
Television, from making its first broadcast. The telecom’s board of
directors is headed by General Saprang Kalayanamitra, one of the most
outspoken military members.

The military imposed martial law following the putsch, purged Thaksin’s loyalists and banned public gatherings.

The ruling military justified the coup by saying that Thaksin, a
self-made billionaire-turned-politician, was corrupt and that the
army-backed government would probe alleged graft during his five years
in office.

But the military has come under criticism over the slow pace of its
corruption probes, with the latest survey showing public support for
Surayud’s government plunging to 48 percent in February from 71 percent
in November.

While the government has lifted the ban on political gatherings, half of Thailand remains under martial law.

– AFP /ls


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