After anti-government protests rocked Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok, storming the nation’s army headquarters and offices of the ruling party, demonstrations have ended peacefully.
After a week of compounding tension and protests aimed at ousting the current prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, hundreds of demonstrators forced their way into Thailand’s Royal Thai Army headquarters in central Bangkok for a few hours before peacefully dispersing. According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, though the army command center had already been moved to a different location in anticipation of growing public unrest, which involved protests at other ministry departments, demonstrators entered the building to give speeches, demanding that the army pick a side in the faceoff between the government and protesters.
Protests are aimed at unseating Shinawatra, the sister of powerful former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Though Thaksin has been in self-imposed exile since 2008 following accusations of corruption, critics still believe that Thaksin is pulling the strings behind Yingluck’s leadership. For many, this was evidenced when a bill in parliament was proposed to grant amnesty for Thaksin last month. Though the bill was eventually blocked by senators, critics saw this as a key sign despite the corruption accusations aimed at Thaksin. “Thaksin only wants to make himself and his family richer,” one protestor named Sarapee Nilwichien told the L.A. Times.
Other protests in the city included a group marching to the ruling Pheu Thai party’s headquarters as another group of several thousand headed to the American embassy, where one demonstrator delivered a message appealing to the U.S. to denounce the Shinawatra family. “We ask the American people to see with your own eyes the thousands of people gathered here,” Korn Chatikavanij, a former finance minister and prominent critic of Yingluck’s leadership. Demonstrators wanted to get peacefully “what Americans have taken for granted, which is a legitimate government and a country where everyone has the same status under the law of the land,” Chatikavaij added, according to the report.