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Archive for November 2008

Stranded pilgrims leave Bangkok airport for hajj

AP 11/30/2008

(Bangkok)-More than 450 Muslim pilgrims stranded at Bangkok’s besieged international airport for four days were bused Sunday to a military base where they were to board a plane for the hajj.

Sen. Anusart Suwanmongkol said buses transported the pilgrims from Suvarnabhumi airport to the U-Tapao naval base, about 90 miles (140 kilometers) southeast of Bangkok. There, they were to board an Iran Air flight arranged by the Iranian Embassy to Saudi Arabia.

“We are going to Mecca. There is only Allah,” said Mohammad Rosi, one of the 459 pilgrims, before he boarded his bus.

The pilgrims arrived in Bangkok from Thailand’s Muslim-majority southern provinces on Tuesday, hours before anti-government protesters took over Suvarnabhumi, forcing the country’s main gateway to shut down.

A separate group of 250 Thai Muslims left Friday from Hat Yai in southern Thailand without coming to Suvarnabhumi.

The 459 in Suvarnabhumi had remained stranded in the airport as the government and protesters debated about how to get them to Mecca. Several attempts fell through, partly due to fears by Iran Air that U-Tapao would also be overrun by protesters, preventing its plane from leaving.

The hajj is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most Muslims, who save up for years to go on the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

Thai Muslim leaders had warned that a failure to help the pilgrims reach Mecca by a Monday deadline could damage relations between predominantly Buddhist Thailand and Saudi Arabia. It also could have further damaged the Thai government’s credibility in the country’s south where an Islamic insurgency has flared since 2004.

More than 3,300 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the violence. Attacks have generally taken the form of drive-by shootings and small-scale bombings intended to frighten Buddhist residents into leaving the predominantly Muslim area.

Muslims in the three southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat accuse the central government of discrimination, especially in jobs and education.

Associated Press writer Chris Blake contributed to this report

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Written by Kham

30/11/2008 at 10:25 pm

Thai protesters seek police protection

People Power Party are here

People Power Party are here

ByThomas Fuller

IHT 11/30/2008

BANGKOK: Protesters illegally occupying Bangkok’s two airports and the prime minister’s office pleaded for police protection Sunday after an explosion wounded about 50 of them, four seriously.

Chamlong Srimuang, a former army general who is one of the protest leaders, met with the chief of police in Bangkok to request that police officers join protesters in patrolling the besieged prime minister’s office, where the explosion took place, Thai media reported.

The meeting came amid growing fears of violence between protesters and government supporters, who held a demonstration Sunday in the heart of Bangkok.

But the meeting between Chamlong and the police also underlined the demonstrators’ impunity in carrying out their illegal sit-ins, which have stranded more than 100,000 travelers both inside Thailand and in neighboring countries that rely on Bangkok as a hub.

Suchart Muenkaew, the Bangkok police chief, said that the 20-minute meeting with Chamlong helped “loosen the tension and mistrust between us.” Thai news Web sites carried photos of Chamlong sitting at a table with smiling senior officers.

In October, Chamlong and eight other leaders were arrested for inciting unrest for the raid and occupation of the prime minister’s office but were released on bail. A police request to revoke their bail was rejected by the attorney general’s office Friday, reinforcing the widely held notion in Thailand that the protesters have powerful backers among the Thai elite.

Foreign governments have grown increasingly impatient with the closure of the airports, which has severed commercial air travel to the capital. All air cargo, including international parcels and mail, destined for Bangkok has been suspended since Wednesday, when Suvarnabhumi Airport was besieged by protesters and shut down.

The U.S. State Department has called the airport seizures “not an appropriate means of protest” and urged protesters to “to walk away from the airports peacefully.” European Union ambassadors in Bangkok issued a statement Saturday that called the protests “totally inappropriate.”

The Thai government is using a military base, U-Tapao, to fly foreigners out of the country, but the airport’s limited facilities – the terminal can accommodate only 400 people – has caused chaos among passengers, some of whom have required medical treatment for heat exhaustion, according to Thai press accounts.

The police issued a second warning Sunday to protesters to disperse from the two airports but continued to maintain that they hoped to end the standoff through negotiation.

More than 2,000 members of the country’s security forces, including some naval and army units, are on standby around Suvarnabhumi airport. Protesters clashed at least twice with security forces at checkpoints near the airport Saturday, disabling 10 police vehicles and prompting the forces to retreat.

The Thai police remained conciliatory. “We are ready to talk,” said Lieutenant General Chalong Somjai, the police officer in charge of Suvarnabhumi, a giant complex that serve as a transportation and commercial hub for Southeast Asia. “We are trying to bring this to a peaceful conclusion,” he said in a news conference Saturday.

On Saturday, the Thai airport authority said Suvarnabhumi would be closed until at least Monday evening, dashing hopes for a quick resolution of the national crisis. But even that timetable seemed optimistic late Sunday, with protesters well entrenched in the airport terminal.

Self-appointed security guards in the besieged airport have blocked access roads with stacks of luggage trolleys, razor wire and a fire truck.

Some protesters are armed with metal rods or golf clubs as they guard the entrances to Suvarnabhumi. Sondhi Limthongkul, a protest leader who addressed his followers Saturday, also appeared to confirm that the group had firearms when he threatened to shoot at the police if fired upon.

“If they come, we will not open the door,” he said. “If they shoot us, we will shoot back.”

Dozens of aircraft are stranded on the tarmacs at both Bangkok airports, Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang, the domestic airport.

“I am most concerned about the aircraft, especially the foreign ones,” said Sereerat Prasutanon, the director of the airport authority, on Saturday.

The Thai prime minister, Somchai Wongsawat, has stayed out of Bangkok since Wednesday, possibly because he fears a military coup. Rumors of a coup persist, but many analysts say they believe that will be unnecessary: the government may be dissolved by court order this week.

Thailand’s constitutional court is expected to rule on a voter-fraud case that could disqualify Somchai from office and disband his political party.

Veera Musikapong, the leader of the Red Shirts, a pro-government group, said the case, which has been speeded through the courts, was politically motivated. “It is obvious that there is interference with justice,” Veera told The Nation newspaper. “It was well planned, and this is a concealed coup.”

In the two years since Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted as prime minister in a military coup, a series of court rulings have banned Thaksin and his allies from participating in politics. Thaksin’s political party also was disbanded, but many of its members then joined the People Power Party, which Somchai now leads.

If the People Power Party is dissolved by court order this week, its members are prepared to join yet another party called Pua Thai, which has been readied in recent weeks for that purpose.

Written by Kham

30/11/2008 at 10:14 pm

Anarchist robs Democracy

Demagogue King, Comrade Sondhi Limthongkul

Demagogue King, Comrade Lin Mingda

People’s Alliance for Democracy Announcement 26/2008
       on
       The Ultimatum for the Prime Minister to Resign Immediately and Without Condition

The People’s Alliance for Democracy has been rallying continuously since May 25, 2008 for 2 main objectives;
       
       1. To prevent the rewriting of the 2007 Constitution by the proxy government of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra who are trying to amend the charter to whitewash the crimes committed by Thaksin and his cronies and to destroy the country’s judiciary system. The PAD also strives to prevent the proxy government from abolishing the Privy Council, a move which the PAD considers to be a direct violation of His Majesty the King’s authority.
       
       The current Thai Parliament is also considered to be under Thaksin’s complete control. It has committed various wrongdoings and violated election laws, yet continues to claim it represents the people of Thailand. But in truth, the proxy Parliament is a sale to any highest bidding politician. The Constitution court’s imminent deliberation of a various party dissolution cases against several of the government coalition partners is proof enough of the fact that Thakin’s proxy government is not a truly ‘constitutional’ government of Thailand.
       
       2. To drive out the killer government that has shamelessly acted as a nominee for fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra. The government is clearly behind the ruthless killings of Thai citizens, manipulated state media, supports the destruction of the Thai judiciary system, exploits the country’s national budget, condones lese majeste actions, lacks any ethical standing and therefore is deemed to be an illegitimate government which is not fit to administer the Kingdom.
       
       For the above reasons the People’s Alliance for Democracy has been rallying peacefully and without arms, a right which is sanctioned by the 2007 Constitution Article 63. Article 70 stipulates that a Thai citizen has the responsibilities to protect the 3 pillars of the country; the nation, religion and the King and the nation’s constitutional monarchy.
       
       However, during the course of the rally the lives and safety of supporters of the People’s Alliance for Democracy have been in constant jeopardy. The government is also clearly involved in masterminding various violent attacks against the PAD. It has also turned a blind eye when the PAD was attacked with weapons of war on more than 10 occasions. The ruthless attacks have resulted in countless injuries and 4 deaths. Several attacks were also targeted at the ASTV headquarters in an attempt to prevent that station from broadcasting live the PAD rally. The government has yet to take any responsibility for the underhanded sabotage attempts.
       
       Three Senate committees, tasked with investigating the violence and bloodshed of the October 7th incident, have found that the PM Somchai Wongsawat and his Cabinet ministers are to be held responsible for the injuries and deaths of the protesters. Their findings coincide with that of the National Human Rights Commission. Premier Somchai must take responsibility for the tragedy by resigning immediately and without any condition.
       
       The People’s Alliance for Democracy has called for a final mass rally to stop the traitorous government and proxy Parliament on November 23, 2008 at 2 p.m. The final rally is well into its 50th hour and the supporters of the PAD have been pressuring the traitorous government to step down with peaceful means. Armed with only the plastic hand clappers, the PAD protesters have marched to various key locations including Parliament, Finance ministry, the Metropolitan Police Bureau and the government’s temporary seat at Don Muang Airport. However, to no avail, the proxy government has failed to show any sign of remorse or any intention to step down as demanded by the PAD. In addition, it continues to cling on to power and is determined to amend the charter for the interests of its puppet master and his associates.
       
       The People’s Alliance for Democracy is left with no choice but to step up its peaceful rally by blocking off access to the Suvarnabhumi Airport. This is considered to be an ultimatum for Somchai Wongsawat and the Cabinet to resign immediately and without any condition.
       
       The people’s alliance apologizes for any inconvenience the closure of the Suvarnabhumi Airport may cause to the public and international visitors to the Kingdom of Thailand. But the PAD believes the measure is crucial to bring an end to the traitorous-killer government.
       
       The PAD is calling for the public from all walks of life to join the PAD movement and call for the current administration to resign immediately to protect Thailand from more harm and to restore morals to the Thai society without any further delay.
       
       With deepest respect, People’s Alliance for Democracy Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Written by Kham

30/11/2008 at 7:04 pm

Letter from PAD Supporter to Clarify Rally

Anti democracy PADsy

Anti democracy PADsy

On November 26, a young woman, dressed in a yellow shirt, was seen walking around the PAD rally site at Suvarnabhumi Airport, distributing a message in English to help clarify the PAD rally.

 

This is to clarify the situation here in Thailand as I believe the foreign press have formed the conclusion that the PAD has little chance of winning this final battle to topple the Nominee Government of Somchai Wongsawat, the brother-in-law of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

Before I say anything else, I’d like to stress here the the PAD’s policy is to use ONLY peaceful means and we have proved our intention by using only reason for the last six months. However, the continuous and nearly daily violence and murderous acts committed against us have come from either the Government, or its representatives, the red-shirted United Frong of Democracy against Dictatorship, which are trying everything in their power to pave the way for the return of Thaksin Shinawatra to become the first President of Thailand.

The aim of the PAD is to rebuild a country based on integrity, honesty, freedom from corruption and fairness from all Thais: all this together with the absolute determination to maintain and honour the Monarchy. We have the most wonderful and exceptional King who has reigned over his people with wisdom and love as the rest of the world is well aware.

Practically the whole of Thailand from all walks of life has converged onto Bangkok to support the PAD. We are not being paid to be here to use violence to get our way. We are not here to support a handful of corrupt politicians serving only one man who wants to divide our country. But we are here by choice, we are here to share an ideal, we are here to realize our goal which is to rebuild our country into a better place for the 60-odd million citizens. It’s actually not a question of “winning or losing” — it’s the reality of achieving what is good and right for our country — Thailand.

Written by Kham

30/11/2008 at 6:45 pm

Commentary: Rama 9’s ends justify the means to stall democracy

Thaksin,President of new Syam Republic

2005 PM Thaksin once Sondhi's best PM in Thailand was seated on the usual seat for royalty on occassion at Wat Keo ,which Sondhi's PADSY mouth accused him of wanting to unseat monarchy. Libelous effort was to imcrimnate Thaksin in whim of hatred lese majeste laws.

By Kok Sap- 29 November 2008

Likely Rama 9 was used by Prem Tinsulanonda to undermine people power and mandates. It was known that Thaksin did not get along with General Prem who is usually over reaching in politics. Prem is King Privy Council President and intimate confidant.

 

May be that’s why Prem is convincing the King to endorse PAD in toppling current government. That way he whitewashes his dangerous plot against populist Thaksin Shinawatra. Other hand Thaksin and family are banished from Thailand forever.

From 2007 election, the winning People Power Party and its coalition had never been given opportunity to govern the country without obstacles. Two prime ministers and three foreign ministers in less than 6 months. Now the economy is depressed. People are in fear. Thailand enters the war with Cambodia. The serious troubles are imminent for country and monarchy.

In early September 2006, Thai police arrested five army officers, all members of Thailand’s counter-insurgency command, after intercepting one of the officers with a bomb in a car allegedly targeting the prime minister’s residence. Three of the suspects were released after the coup.

 In Thailand recent history under Thaksin government, the rural seemed enjoying the equality, political, and welfare rights. They have confidence in themselves and take stance against the extremists and right wing clingers. They are angry at the coup plotters who infringed their rights and government. The rural supports for Thaksin and current government threaten the monarchy institution and its beneficiaries greatly.

Prem, 2006 Coup d'Etat Mastermind
Prem, 2006 Coup d’Etat Mastermind

Many causes of 2006 coup were identified, both by the junta as well as by independent observers. Initial reasons stated by the junta were the Thaksin government’s alleged creation of an “unprecedented rift in society”, corruption, nepotism, interference in independent agencies, and insults to the King. Later reasons stated by junta leaders included Thaksin’s alleged vote buying, plans to provoke violence, and weakening of the military.

From the independent analysts, the coup was otherwise due to personal conflicts between Thaksin and King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The coup (masterminds Prem, Surayud, Sonthi) did not want Thaksin in a position to exert influence on the passing of the Chakri Dynasty mantle to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. The coup was due to class conflicts between the rural poor and the urban elites. Also the coup hedged unpatriotic of Thaksin conciliatory policy toward Pattani insurgency. 

 

Royal endorsement is critical to establishing legitimacy for military rebellions – every successful coup over the past 60 years have been endorsed by Bhumibol. The only two in 1981 and 1985 against his friend,Prem, government were unendorsed by him.

The new rulers after September 19, 2006 were King personal friends,General Sonthi Boonyaratglin and General Surayud Chulanont.Under the junta rule, there were rampant corruptions and internal manipulations. In early 2008, the military and their special investigation team comprising of political opponents of Thaksin could not find any evidence supporting the corruption accusation.

To date with royal palace green light, PAD –Democrat are insistent on Thaksin being a traitor and a corruptive official. The understanding was that Sondhi Limthongkul was once Thaksin Protégé then turned personal enemy over sour business deals. With the royal signal, Sondhi is ever more belligerent in endangering Thailand.

The current parliament and government offices are held hostage by PAD-Democrat’s doing since August. In appearance, their actions are grounded for treason and incitation of anarchy. Heraclitus said,” day by day what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny.”

In Thailand drama, King Rama 9 may end up paying for his doings to infringe democracy and people rights. After all he’s a man first. By all means men and women are created equal and endowed with alienable rights to pursue life, liberty and happiness. It has been 76 years, Thailand has not been granted full human rights yet. People are getting weary of elitism and special interests. The outside world is pity for Thailand cry for true democracy.

Written by Kham

30/11/2008 at 5:49 am

Grenade blast wounds 46 protesters in Bangkok

Anti-government demonstrators carry a wounded woman to safety near the Government House in Bangkok November 30, 2008. (REUTERS/Stringer)

Anti-government demonstrators carry a wounded woman to safety near the Government House in Bangkok November 30, 2008. (REUTERS/Stringer)

By Ed Cropley

BANGKOK (Reuters) – A grenade blast wounded 46 anti-government protesters in Bangkok, hospital officials said on Sunday, the latest escalation in the country’s increasingly violent political crisis.

The blast occurred around midnight at Government House, where thousands of supporters of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), who have occupied the prime minister’s compound since August in a bid to unseat him, were attending a rally.

A spokeswoman for the Erawan Medical Centre said at least 46 people had been wounded.

Channel 3 television showed footage of the wounded being rushed to hospital in pickup trucks. It said at least two people were in critical condition.

“I had come down from the stage about 30 minutes before the grenade dropped into a crowded area,” PAD leader Suriyasai Katasila told Channel 3.

He blamed pro-government supporters for the attack, which came as the PAD’s dramatic blockade of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi international airport entered its fifth day.

The sit-ins at Suvarnabhumi, and the city’s old airport Don Muang now used for domestic flights, are part of the PAD’s “final battle” launched on Monday to unseat Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat.

They accuse the prime minister of being a puppet of his brother-in-law, former leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and lives in exile.

Somchai, who has refused to quit, imposed emergency rule at the airports two days ago but police have made no moves to evict the thousands of protesters.

Somchai effectively sacked his police chief on Friday, blaming him for mishandling the protests, Thai media said.

The unrest has paralysed flights at both airports, stranded thousands of passengers and sparked rumours of a military coup, even though the army chief has said he will not seize control.

“SHOOT THEM BACK”

In Saturday night’s clash at Suvarnabhumi, 150 riot police fled their checkpoint after they were attacked by PAD militants armed with iron rods, slingshots and hurling firecrackers.

The onslaught lasted 15 seconds but left the five-lane highway, the main access route to the $4 billion airport, littered with broken glass and discarded police helmets and truncheons.

Earlier, about 2,000 PAD members forced riot police to abandon another checkpoint near the airport. There was no violence, but one police officer was detained by PAD “security guards”, the Nation newspaper reported on its website.

PAD supporters have vowed to “fight to the death”, and youths armed with iron stakes manned barricades, scanning the horizon with binoculars for signs of police or pro-government gangs.

“If they come, we’ll not open the door. If they shoot us, we’ll shoot them back. We’ll die if that makes the country better,” PAD leader Sondhi Limthongul told supporters, the most explicit admission yet by the movement that they are armed.

The airport closures have crippled the tourism industry during the peak end-of-year season.

Deputy Prime Minister Olarn Chaipravat said the damage to Thailand’s tourist image may cut arrivals by half in 2009 from an expected 13.5 million this year, and threaten one million jobs.

The government will spend $30 million over the next month to help stranded tourists, he told reporters, including giving them free hotel rooms and a daily stipend of $56.

“It has been very frustrating,” said Ian Fraser, an Australian who was due to return home on Wednesday after a month of lectures in Thailand.

The government is shuttling tourists to U-Tapao, a Vietnam War-era naval airbase 150 km (90 miles) east of Bangkok, as an alternative landing site for airlines, but travellers have complained of massive delays and confusion.

The crisis has increased pressure on the army to oust the prime minister, as they did Thaksin in 2006, after Somchai rejected military calls to quit this week.

But army chief Anupong Paochinda has said he would not take over, arguing the military cannot heal fundamental political rifts between the Bangkok elite and middle classes, who despise Thaksin, and the poor rural and urban majority who love him.

Written by Kham

30/11/2008 at 5:34 am

Thai protesters hit police and tighten grip on airport

Thousands are stranded in land of smiles
Thousands are stranded in land of smiles

by Ed Cropley (Reuters) 11/29/2008

Anti-government protesters tightened their grip on Bangkok’s international airport today, attacking police checkpoints aimed at stopping more people from joining the blockade.

The protests, aimed at forcing out Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, have paralysed flights, stranded thousands of passengers and sparked rumours of a military coup, even though the army chief has said he will not seize control.

The government said tourism was suffering and the number of visitors to Thailand could fall by half next year.

In the latest clash, about 150 riot police fled their checkpoint near Suvarnabhumi airport after they were assaulted by protesters hurling iron rods and firecrackers from speeding cars.

The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) movement, which invaded the airport four days ago, then stationed guards on the expressway exit to prevent the police returning.

Earlier, about 2,000 PAD members forced riot police to abandon another checkpoint near the airport. There was no violence, but one police officer was detained by PAD “security guards”, the Nation newspaper reported on its website.

The PAD’s occupation of Suvarnabhumi, and a second older airport in Bangkok, is a dramatic escalation of their six-month street campaign against Somchai.

The airport closures have crippled the tourism industry during the peak end-of-year season. Somchai, who has refused to quit, imposed emergency rule at the airports two days ago but police have made no moves to evict the thousands of protesters.

Somchai, who is running the government from its political stronghold in the northern city of Chiang Mai, demoted his national police chief on Friday. While no official reason was given, Thai newspapers said he had been sacked for refusing to send riot police in to end the protest.

The PAD, a coalition of royalist businessmen, activists and academics who accuse Somchai of being a puppet of his brother-in-law, ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, seized the airports in a “final battle” to unseat the government.

At Suvarnabhumi, PAD youths armed with iron stakes and wearing police riot helmets manned barricades, scanning with binoculars for signs of police or pro-government gangs.

“If they come, we’ll not open the door. If they shoot us, we’ll shoot them back. We’ll die if that makes the country better,” PAD leader Sondhi Limthongul told supporters, the most explicit admission yet by the movement that they are armed.

His co-leader, retired general Chamlong Srimuang, said the PAD had not held talks with authorities, but was open to meet “with people directly involved in the situation such as Somchai”.

In a televised address on Friday night, Somchai said the PAD was doing massive damage to the tourism- and export-driven economy, but he would avoid violence to end the protests.

“Don’t worry. Officials will use gentle measures to deal with them,” he said, inviting rights groups and journalists to monitor the imposition of emergency rule at the two airports.

The airport sit-ins have forced hundreds of flights to be cancelled and grounded millions of dollars of air cargo.

Deputy Prime Minister Olarn Chaipravat said the damage to Thailand’s tourist image may cut arrivals by half in 2009 from an expected 13.5 million this year, and threaten one million jobs.

The government will spend $30 million over the next month to help stranded tourists, he told reporters, including giving them free hotel rooms and a daily stipend of $56.

“It has been very frustrating,” said Ian Fraser, an Australian who was due to return home on Wednesday after a month of lectures in Thailand.

The government is shuttling tourists to U-Tapao, a Vietnam War-era naval airbase 150 km (90 miles) east of Bangkok, as an alternative landing site for airlines, but travellers have complained of massive delays and confusion.

Pressure is building on the army to oust the prime minister, as they did Thaksin in 2006, after Somchai rejected military calls to quit this week.

But army chief Anupong Paochinda has said he would not take over, arguing the military cannot heal fundamental political rifts between the Bangkok elite and middle classes, who despise Thaksin, and the poor rural and urban majority who love him.

Written by Kham

30/11/2008 at 5:20 am

Posted in ASEAN General News

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