Thai Protesters Vow to Press On With “People’s Coup” as Three Killed

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 1 2013 12:04 PM

Thai Protesters Vow to Press On With “People’s Coup” as Three Killed

452750437
A Thai anti-government protester reacts as a tear gas shell bursts near him outside the Government house during a demonstration in Bangkok on December 1

Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images

About 30,000 protesters took to the streets in Bangkok, launching a “people’s coup” on Thailand’s government Sunday. The group of protesters managed to take over a state broadcaster and forced the prime minister to flee a police compound, reports Reuters. But protesters, who had declared Sunday would be their “V-Day,” failed to fulfill their goal of taking over the prime minister’s office. “There was a reality check, though, when they reached the impressive concrete and razor-wire barricades put up by the police across all roads leading to the PM's building. There was no way through,” reports the BBC’s Jonathan Head.

The leader of the protests, Suthep Thaugsuban, unexpectedly met Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra Sunday after a day of clashes but told her the protesters would not compromise in demanding her resignation, reports the Associated Press. He gave her a two-day ultimatum to leave government and “return power to the people,” without specifying what would happen after the two days were up. The country’s central bank has warned the unrest is hurting Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, notes Bloomberg.

Advertisement

At least three people were killed, and 103 injured, since the clashes began a week ago. Sunday was the first time the police used force, which has led to fear that more bloodshed and instability could be imminent.

The protesters “are pursuing the quixotic goal of ridding the country of the influence of Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire tycoon and former prime minister whose political party has captured the allegiance of voters in the countryside, winning every election since 2001,” notes the New York Times. Instead of democratic rule, the protesters, who are mostly made up of middle class Bangkok residents, are seeking “an ill-defined people’s council made up of representatives from many professions.” Pro-Thaksin demonstration in 2010 left more than 90 dead.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.