Thai PM declares emergency rule in Bangkok (Updated)

September 2, 2008 at 5:08 am | Posted in BERITA | Leave a comment

Tuesday September 2, 2008 MYT 12:49:48 PM

BANGKOK (Thailand): Thailand’s prime minister says that imposing a state of emergency in Bangkok is the “softest” approach to restoring calm and vows that the measures will not last very long.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej gave no time frame for how long the emergency rule declared early Tuesday would last but said it would be “moderately quick.”

Samak made the remarks at a news conference after street fighting overnight between opponents and supporters of the government left one man dead and dozens of people injured.

The violence heightened a national crisis brought on when anti-government protesters occupied the prime minister’s office compound Aug 26 and vowed to hold it until Samak stepped down.

The emergency suspends many civil liberties and allows the military to police the city.

Earlier Tuesday, a week of political tension burst into violence as Samak supporters clashed with People’s Alliance for Democracy protesters who are demanding his resignation and have occupied the grounds of his office compound for a week.

Bands of young men armed with sticks, slingshots and other makeshift weapons chased each other down the boulevards of Bangkok, brutally beating those they managed to catch. Gunshots also were fired, with reporters seeing at least one man aiming and firing a pistol at a group of people.

One person died from severe head injuries and four others were in serious condition, two with gunshot wounds, Dr. Petchapon Kumtonkitjakarn of the Erawan Medical Center told The Associated Press. He said 38 people were being treated for injuries at several hospitals.

Police were unable to stop the Tuesday morning fighting, which eased up only after army troops with riot gear – but no guns – were dispatched to the scene.

The People’s Alliance for Democracy claims the government is corrupt and too close to ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup and recently fled to Britain to escape an array of corruption charges. The same group organized the massive anti-Thaksin demonstrations in 2006 that helped spark the bloodless coup.

TV stations announced the state of emergency with an unidentified voice reading the decree on behalf of Samak while its text was displayed on the screen.

The provisions, which took about 15 minutes to read, included a ban on gatherings of more than five people, a ban on media dissemination of news likely to panic the public or instigate violence, and mandates for security officials to clear public roads, buildings and other areas.

The terms would allow the military to immediately oust the protesters occupying the prime minister’s premises, and could be seen as giving them the power to shut down a satellite TV station operated by one of the protest leaders.

The protest group has defied police and court orders since last week to evacuate the government facility and clear nearby public roads.

State of emergency in Thailand: What it means

Thailand’s prime minister imposed a state of emergency in the capital, Bangkok, on Tuesday following overnight clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters.

The emergency decree signed by Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej empowered the army to restore order with the assistance of police.

It also:

Bans gatherings of more than five people in Bangkok.

Bars the media from disseminating any news that “causes panic, instigates violence or affects stability.”

Allows security officials to close or block roads or deny citizens the right to use vehicles.

Allows security forces to evacuate or close buildings and other areas as they see fit for maintaining public order.

Under the constitution, emergency rule also allows security officials to hold suspects without charge for up to 30 days if they get permission from a court. – AP



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