Bangkok Shutdown As Protests Rage On


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Today saw the beginnings of a planned month-long “shutdown” in Bangkok. Anti-government protesters have successfully blocked off several key points in the capital city, which include Pathumwan intersection, Lat Phrao intersection, Chaeng Wattana Road and Victory Monument. This has forced law enforcement to direct citizens to use alternative routes.

Police Lieutenant General Ruangsak Jritek reportedly stated that 4,000 officers have been deployed to help road users move easily in the areas of the block-offs. Police officials estimated that as many as sixteen major roads would be impacted by the protests.

The entire"Bangkok shutdown" movement was orchestrated by the People's Democratic Reform Committee. The aim of this organization and its allies has been the removal of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who is seen as a continuation of the influence of her elder brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaskin Shinawatra has been in exile since a successful military coup in 2006 removed him from power and forced him to flee the country.

Yingluck Shinawatra ignited a firestorm of protest and outrage in November of last year when she attempted to pass an amnesty bill for her brother. It would have allowed him to Thailand and avoid the two year prison term he'd face if he were captured. Since then, hundreds have been killed in clashes with authorities.

Despite the desperate measures of opposition forces, they face an uphill battle. Parties affiliated with the Shinawatra family have successfully won elections going back to 2001. The majority of the Shinawatra opposition is made up of the countries upper middle class and elite. Meanwhile the Shinawatra draws support from the poorer and rural areas.

Anti-government officials fear that the influence of Shinawatra fuels corruption and are striving for the power of the nation to be put into the hands of an impartial, non-government entity.

Image via ITN