(Updated) Protests: Not over yet
- Published: 27/11/2013 at 08:15 AM
- Online news:
It is another busy day on the streets of Bangkok and protesters there and upcountry have stepped up their efforts to rid the country of the so-called Thaksin regime. We start with a brief look at yesterday before following the events of today.
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A tired-looking anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban wipes his brow at the Finance Ministry yesterday. He led protesters in a raid on the ministry on Monday. PATIPAT JANTHONG
Protesters at the Government Complex in Chaengwattana have move away from the DSI headquarters to a new and brighter spot to spend the night. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL
Here's a summary of the events surrounding the ministries targeted by rally leaders today from our online reporters:
The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) was a prime target of protesters who also rallied at another nine ministries on Wednesday, escalating their demonstrations against the government and demanding an end to the "Thaksin regime".
The other nine targets were the Commerce, Culture, Energy, Industry, Labour, Natural Resources and Environment, Public Health, Social Development and Human Security, and Science and Technology ministries.
Protesters outside the Labour Ministry were the reception was not quite as friendly as elsewhere. APICHART JINAKUL
The demonstrators demanded officials working in the ministries stop serving the vested interests of the Pheu Thai Party-led government.
The government moved to counter the demonstrations and officials sought arrest warrants for other leaders of the protest, besides Suthep Thaugsuban.
An estimated 3,000 protesters rallied outside the 10 offices, but about 17,000 turned up at the DSI headquarters on Chaeng Wattana Road, adjacent to the government complex, according to the police.
Mr Suthep led the march from his base at the Finance Ministry to the DSI, forcing officials to evacuate the building and return home.
At the Commerce Ministry, many officials fled on a boat along the Chao Phraya River, but others joined the demonstrators, giving them water and blowing whistles.
In one of the big, under-reported stories of the day, it appears that the compounds of all the provincial halls in the South have been taken over by protesters. From video footage shown on Thai PBS, the crowds are very large.
Post Today estimates the number of marchers accompanying "Kamnan" Suthep from the Finance Ministry to the Government Complex, Chaengwattana at 60,000. PATIPAT JANTHONG
Here is a good view of "Kamnan" Suthep's crowd outside DSI headquarters. TAWATCHAI KHEMGUMNERD
Sathit Wongnongtoei has just announced to the crowd at Ratchaprason that "Kamnan" Suthep and the group he brought from the Finance Minister are setting up a third rally site at the Government House complex in Chaeng Wattana. He will stay there overnight. Post Today has just posted these photos (below) from outside DSI headquarters in the complex, so that might be the site.
Post Today photos from outside the DSI which the crowd marching from the Finance Ministry reached about 2:30pm
Protesters gather in front of Energy Ministry on Vibhavidi road. (Post Today photo)
A large crowd of supporters of the People's Democratic Force to Overthrow Thaksinism (Pefot) surrounded the Energy Ministry’s offices, blocking all gates, on Vibhavadi road around noon on Wednesday.
The demonstrators demanded that government officials at the ministry stop working for the state and go home by 1pm, insisting that the current administration is no longer legitimate because it does not respect the court’s authority.
A Pefot leader affirmed they had no intention to occupy the ministry’s buildings, but they had cut off all access to the site.
Meanwhile, at the Health Ministry....PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
About 10,000 anti-government protesters surround the provincial hall in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Nucharee Rakrun
Our reporter from Nakhon Si Thammarat reports that about 10,000 anti-government protesters have surrounded the provincial hall, but police have prevented them to go inside and there does not seem to be any movement to do so. The speeches outside are lively though. No violence has been reported.
A large crowd has surrounded the provincial hall in Chumporn. AMNART THONGDEE
Elsewhere in the South, protesters did enter the provincial hall in Trang last night. Large crowds were also reported at provincial halls in Songkhla, Surat Thani, Phattalung, Ranong and Chumporn to name a few. (Latest: Unconfirmed reports say 13 provincial halls are under siege, three outside the South.
In Surat Thani, protesters find a resting place on top of the entrance to the provincial hall. They have called on government workers there to take a 3-day holiday. SUPAPONG CHAOLAN
Like their colleagues else where, protesters at the Minister of Industry are asking the civil servants to leave work and go home. Earlier there were reports that in some places, civil servants were given permission to leave before large groups of protesters arrived. Thai PBS warned that it will likely be very difficult to do routine tasks at many government offices today.
Marchers leave the Ratchaprasong rally site for their targeted ministries. PANUMAS SANGUANWONG
One group has now reached the Ministry of Commerce. PATTANAPONG HIRUNARD
According to our online reporters, apart from Mr Suthep's march to the government complex in Chaengwattana, six more ministries are being targeted for "visits":
Anti-government protesters at Ratchadamnoen Avenue will today move on three different routes to rally at six more ministries, protest leader Sathit Wongnongtoey announced.
Mr Sathit said the first group of protesters would march from Din Daeng Road to the Labour Ministry and the Social Development and Human Security Ministry.
The second group would walk along Rama 6 road to the Industry and Information and Communication Technology ministries.
The third would travel on 30 pick-up trucks to the Public Health and Commerce ministries.
Mr Sathit told the protesters not to go inside the ministry buildings except when asked to do so by officials.
He told the protesters to give flowers and whistles to officials and return to Ratchadamnoen Avenue to hear an important announcement to be made tonight.
It looks like we can add the Culture Ministry to that list. This ministry looks well prepared for the "visitors". SAYANT PORNNANTHARAT
Thai PBS reported that the first target of Mr Suthep's protest group would be the government complex on Chaengwattana Road, a 16km march. (That very large group has now reached Chatuchak with many people joining on the way. It will turn on to Viphavadee at the 5-way Lard Prao intersection and pass the DSI headquarters.) Several ministries are being targetted, including the Commerce Ministry. Sathit Wong-Nong Toey just announced to the Ratchadamneon crowd that the provincial hall in Nakhon Sri Thammarat has been taken over by local protesters, the first in the country.
First update: 9:30
All police vans of this Roi-et police unit had their tires flattened at a petrol station by protesters worried they were part of a crackdown. They weren't. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL
Many protesters supporting rally leader Suthep Thuagsuban got little sleep last night as rumours were rife that police would mount a major crackdown. Protesters closed off roads near the occupied Finance Ministry and prevented one unfortunate police unit from leaving a petrol station on Rama 6 Road. They let the air out of the tires of vans transporting them, but the situation calmed down after the local commander allowed them to inspect the vans for weapons. None were found. The commander said they were on their way back to Roi-et province as part of a normal police rotation. (Yes, he blew a whistle given to him by protesters.)
Update: A protest leader at Ratchadamnoen now claims the police were part of a group going to the Finance Ministry to arrest Mr Suthep, but they were turned back by protesters and stopped at the petrol station.
This morning's main story
The man leading the fight, former Democrat MP Suthep Thuagsuban, gave an emotional speech from the occupied Finance Ministry last night, outlining plans for a people's assembly, a system that would eliminate the possibility of vote-buying in election, a revision in the laws governing corruption, particularly extending the statute of limitations, and making the impeachment process for high government officials to be quicker and more effective. He also talked about his own problems with the law. Here is an excerpt from today's main Bangkok Post story with the details.
Suthep scorns arrest warrant
Protest leader calls for all govt offices to be stormed
Anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has defied a warrant issued for his arrest by calling on protesters to storm all ministries and provincial halls nationwide today.
The Criminal Court yesterday approved an arrest warrant for Mr Suthep for illegal assembly and invading government offices.
The warrant had been requested by Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) deputy chief Khachonsak Pansakhon.
Rally leader Suthep Thuagsuban talks strategy with other leaders at the Finance Ministry yesterday morning. PATTARACHAI PRECHAPANICH
The arrest warrant
Mr Suthep insisted last night at the Finance Ministry he would not flee as he said he respected the justice system but would not turn himself in to police until the so-called "Thaksin regime" is uprooted from the country.
By Thaksin regime, Mr Suthep and the anti-government protesters refer to the influence of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra on Thai politics.
He said if his supporters did not want him to be arrested, they should come to Bangkok to join the protests.
"These could be my last words to you. I don't know what will become of me."
The veteran politician urged protesters to stay alert throughout the night as he had received reports that the police would break into the compound to arrest him.
Mr Suthep urged all anti-government demonstrators across the country to take over the fight by laying siege to all government offices.
"I'm asking Bangkok people to do like I did at the Finance Ministry at all remaining ministries and for people in the provinces to do it at provincial halls and tell officials not to serve the Thaksin regime anymore," he said.
"We have to do it simultaneously tomorrow [today], otherwise we will have no chance of victory."
A protesters listens to Mr Suthep speak at the Finance Ministry last night. PATIPAT JANTHONG
Mr Suthep insisted he was not leading the fight against the government for his own vested gains.
"I give my word that I'm not doing this [leading the protest] for power or positions for the Democrat Party or for the party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.
"And I declare before the sanctity of Buddhism that I, Suthep Thaugsuban, will not be prime minister in the future," he said.
In at least two provinces – Saraburi and Satun – anti-government groups tried to break into provincial halls yesterday afternoon. But riot police blocked them from entering. No violence was reported as of press time last night.
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- Writer: Terry Fredrickson
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