March 21st, 2010
12:07 PM ET

Thai government invites protesters to meet

The Thai government has offered to meet with anti-government protesters in a move to end a political stalemate that has prompted mass demonstrations in the capital, fficials said.

"All parties agreed with the process of using the role of senators or the National Human Rights Commission as facilitator in arranging for (a) dialogue with representatives of the demonstrator," Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said in a government statement.

However, Nattawut Saikua, one of the leaders of the "red shirt" protesters, said the group will only talk with Abhisit himself, not any other representatives.

For more than a week, protests have taken over the streets of Bangkok as demonstrators have demanded new elections.

The "red shirts" - so named for their clothing - have said they are collecting 1,000 liters of their own blood every day to splatter on various official buildings.

The gesture is the latest move by the anti-government United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, or UDD, to force Abhisit to dissolve parliament and call new elections.

Another representative of the "red shirt" group, Weng Tojirakarn, said the protesters are ready to disperse as soon as the government dissolves the lower house. Demonstrators will only talk with Abhisit, he said, but might speak with anyone authorized by him. The group wants to talk with a person who can make a decision, not a messenger, Tojirakarn said.

On Wednesday, protesters broke through a heavy police cordon and splattered blood on the gates of Abhisit's residence. Abhisit, who was staying at the army's 11th Infantry headquarters, was out of the capital, visiting drought-hit areas of Thailand at the time of the attack.

Abhisit repeatedly has said that he will listen to the protesters, but will not accede to their demands.

The anti-government demonstrations began March 12. Two days later, tens of thousands of protesters had poured into the center of Bangkok.

The rallies have been largely peaceful. Abhisit has said his government will not use force to quell the protests.

The protesters are supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a bloodless military coup in 2006. Thaksin was the only Thai prime minister to serve a full term and remains hugely popular.

He fled the country in 2008 while facing trial on corruption charges that he says were politically motivated.

The protesters say Abhisit was not democratically elected and have demanded that he call elections.

Since Thaksin's ouster, Thailand has endured widespread political unrest that has pitted Thaksin loyalists against Abhisit supporters. Two people were killed and at least 135 wounded in riots in April when protesters clashed with demonstrators supporting the government.

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Filed under: Thailand • World
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Banyat

    First of all International Communities will never understand the real political system in Thailand, even majority of Thais have no clue what kind of political system it is that we have.
    Feudalism is very close to the system that we have though it is suppose to be “Constitution Monarchy”. In normal system, we have the king (may be queen now), the government will appoint the council with acceptant of HM the King. The council will have the head of council. The Council shall not give council to anybody else. Well the current head of Council decide t ignore all the rules and build his own power base in the army using generals since he was formal a general himself, thus Feudalism in Thailand.

    HM the King is a great king because he follows the law to the letter. Since he is not involved in politics, Prem, the shogun tends to use his position to IMPLY that what ever him and his generals do or did were approved by HM. His group is the group that can decide who is royal or who is not – take Les Majesty law to the dark side. Again HM is quiet.

    Prem, the Shogun decides that he is powerful to be above all wrongs – in other words, he can do no wrong and have the right to tell Thais who is righteous and who is not.

    Prem , the Shogun decided that Dr. Thaksin former PM of Thailand is not a righteous person, thus force his forces to overthrown the administration. There are very little evidences that Dr. Thaksin was corrupted or not righteous. The manufactures evidences (according to Reds) are not good enough to convict Dr. Thaksin, SO after they overthrown the government, the Coup group re-wrote the constitutions to add laws so that Dr. Thaksin can be convicted with the new law – and they did.

    Dr. Thaksin gave hope to the poor people in Thailand and now doing so in other third world countries. CNN can follow his activities to see if this is not true – check Nicaragua for one.

    Finally, I am a royalist. What Dr. Thaksin did or does, has not affected me in any shape or form.

    March 25, 2010 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. don

    What a bunch of smoke and mirrors. Until the red shirts are ready to arrest the government, the court chosen by the military, the generals responsible for past coups and especially the people pulling the strings (the Privy Council and the son of the master), let's just ignore the news in Thailand.

    March 25, 2010 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
  3. Diaspora

    No matter what the outcome of this protest is, the Isaan poeple are still poor and desparate. It's true that Mr. Thaksin is corrupt, but he had helped the poor in rural areas. To me that's what it counts. Corruption is every where even in developed countries. With the political turnoil in the country we can see a lot of businesses have been driven out of the countries year by year,

    March 25, 2010 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. ThaiThai

    Whatever happens, I am sure Taksin will never be back to Thailand alive. He deserves that by the way. The court published 700 pages of Taksin corruption charges. It is so clear and direct. The court had been investigating for 4 years, if they really unfair and want to get rid of Taksin, the court would not allow him to go to Olympic opening ceremony in China (this was after he's been found guilty), which he later escaped all pending charges from Thailand. Taksin and his folks can not accept the truth, keep cursing on the system and the King. Anyway, Taksin has proved that money can buy almost anything. He uses poverty and hunger to stimulus rural citizens to fight for "an imaginary snapshot of a better life", just as he promised to solve traffic problems within 6 months campaign which he never did. Thailand is a democratic country, and a free market. You "earn" what you "work" for. Some people are still in a bad financial situation, and that is not because the king or current the governrment, it is solely because their financial behaviors and it simply implies that they do not work hard enough. Public school system tuition is as cheap as one Starbucks coffee, it is there for them to add their personal value. YET, not many realize and accomplish it, they wait and beg, and moan for help. This time many of them have proven again that money talks, BS walk on youtube. If you call 2,000 bahts per head if you jpin the protest, I dont think that's democracy kinda way.

    March 25, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. taitanium

    CNN should go read Economists!! Their latest article is awesome and can explain everything that is happening there... If you wanna have a clearer view, search for the latest Economists article.

    March 25, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. NK

    Amara Pongsapich, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) was teaching at Pol Science Faculty at Chulalongkorn University. She was in front on the move of protesting Thaksin during "yellow shirt" movement in 2008, the same group that closed down the airport and siezed the government house.

    That time, she, as Pol Science professor, has criticized Thaksin, in the class when Thaksin's dauhter was sitting there as her student. The word like "don't you ashame that your father is the corruptor?" has been response from Thaksin's daughter that time.

    Last week when PM Abhisit called her to meet at 11th Infantry Military camp, when he was in the barrack for security reason, she came with big bunch of flowers to give a support to Abhisit, then after the press release to let NHRCT to be a mediator to speak with the Red Shirt. (he and other cabinet members have been staying at the 11th Infantry Regiment over security concerns since before the redshirt came and protest on March 12)

    So, that's why the Red Shirt has denied this idea, when the mediator has already taken side...

    It is quite too late for my post, just saw it...but hope the truth should be spoken out...

    peace and justice...I believe

    March 26, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  7. Khanti

    All Thai Priminsters, from the past and present, are corrupted people anyways. Why you pick up Thaksin? He has been elected by the people and he was working for the Thai.
    Long life RED shirts

    March 26, 2010 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. chadin

    Khanti, you'd better find some books to read more about thai's prime mister from past to present. and you'd better do some research about Thailand's election procedures. You'll find out that no Prime Minister was ELECTED by the people but by the representatives indeed.
    He was a police officer, resign, CEO in his corporate, a politician and PM at last. Such a guy who was in the kind of study and political party may say he wasn't understand or knowing that a particular law that put him in jail exists. wow? That's a great surprise. Don't mention about the judge who put the verbal verdict on him as he said weeks before. And was he really worked for Thai? I can't remember any country's PM who later vow another country's stated as some assistant. He is working for Cambodia and now Monte-Negro indeed.

    March 28, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
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