John Brandon is The Asia Foundation’s Director for International Relations programs. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej is struggling for his political survival and is increasingly finding himself in a “no win” situation. For the past week, a group of well-organized, anti-government protesters known as the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has taken over and occupied Government House, Thailand’s equivalent of The White House. The protesters refuse to leave until Samak resigns. Since the occupation, the situation has worsened. On September 2nd, political tension erupted into violent street clashes between pro and anti-government supporters that left one person dead and more than 40 injured. These clashes are believed to have been instigated by members of the pro-government Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship (DAAD). In response, Samak has declared a state of emergency in Bangkok.
Under normal circumstances, protesters taking over Government House would be removed and arrested for their civil disobedience. But these are not normal times in Thailand. (more…)
James Klein is The Asia Foundation’s Country Representative in Thailand. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Once right-wing factions of the ruling People Power Party (PPP) began busing pro-government supporters into Bangkok under the banner of the Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship (DAAD) to confront the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), the violence that erupted was predictable. PAD has been protesting against the government of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej for the past 100 days and has held the ground of the Government House for the past week. They’ve been successful in maintaining a relatively peaceful demonstration, as they have in the past when organizing protests against former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2005 and 2006. However, when red-shirted DAAD forces have made an appearance on the streets, the DAAD resorted to confrontation and violence to force its point of view. (more…)