Thailand: protesters occupy government ministry

Now Reading:

Thailand: protesters occupy government ministry

Text size Aa Aa

More than 1,000 anti-government protesters have entered the country’s Finance Ministry in Bangkok to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. She is the brother of ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is currently in exile oversees since fleeing corruption charges but who the demonstrators believe is still pulling the strings of power in the country. The demonstrators are angry at a government bill which could provide Thaksin with an amnesty and allow him to return home without serving time in jail.

Eyewitnesses say more than 1,000 people moved into the Finance Ministry on Monday a day after more than a hundred thousand people took to the streets to voice their anger at the government, with some even calling for military intervention. “I invite protesters to stay here overnight at the Finance Ministry,” protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban told a crowd gathered in front of the ministry. “I urge other protesters to do the same and seize other government buildings and offices around the country.”

A counter-demonstration made up of government supporters also took place on Sunday, bringing together an estimated 50,000 people.

Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in 2006 but he went into self-imposed exile before judges could give a verdict in his trial over accusations of corruption. His People’s Party was banned by Thailand’s Constitutional Court in 2008 despite it having won more votes than any other party in elections a year earlier. Thaksin’s supporters, known as the “red shirts”, led a 100,000-person-strong occupation of Bangkok in 2010. More than 90 people, most of whom were civilian protesters, were killed in violence when the army moved in to break up those demonstrations but the “red shirts” did eventually succeed in bringing down the Democrat Party government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajjiva. Thaksin’s sister then led the Pheu Thai party to power after the most recent general election in 2011. She faces the prospect of a no-confidence vote in parliament this week but has said she has no intention of resigning.

VIDEO: Democratic Party stages large anti-government rally in Bangkok – November 25

Tweets from the scene

Picture of freelance journalist Nick Nostitz who was attacked by protesters today in Bangkok