THAI TURMOIL: Military declares martial law in Thailand
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/20/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
There is tension in the air -as history has repeated itself in the Asian nation of Thailand. The army has declared martial law, some say unilaterally, as violence has spilled into the streets and people have been killed or been injured. The coup comes as a big surprise to acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan.
"I didn't do anything against the law," Yingluck Shinawatra insisted in court. "I have performed my duty in the administration with the intention of benefiting the country."
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lieutenant General Nipat Thonglek insists the move is not a coup.
"The army aims to maintain peace, order and public safety for all groups and all parties," a ticker running on the army's television channel said. "People are urged not to panic, and can carry on their business as usual," he said.
While alarming, it's nothing the Thai people haven't experienced before. There have been at least 18 actual and attempted military takeovers since Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement about the imposition of martial law. Moon is quoted in the statement as saying peace in Thailand can only come about if the people have respect "for democratic principles and engagement in democratic processes."
The secretary-general urged all sides to exercise "utmost restraint, refrain from any violence and fully respect human rights," according to the statement.
The crisis in Thailand had been broiling for some time. On May 7, Yingluck Shinawatra was removed from government after the Thai Constitutional Court ruled that she was guilty of violating the constitution.
Charges against her were brought in a lawsuit that anti-government senators filed. She was accused of abusing her power by unlawfully transferring National Security Council Chief Thawil Pliensri from his role in September 2011, alleging the move was intended to benefit her Puea Thai Party and a family member.
"I didn't do anything against the law," Yingluck insisted in court. "I have performed my duty in the administration with the intention of benefiting the country."
Her ascension to power due to governmental instability. She dissolved parliament in December, ahead of a general election in February that was disrupted by anti-government protesters. The Constitutional Court subsequently ruled the election invalid.
Protesters had taken to the streets against the government's attempt to pass an amnesty bill that would have made it possible for Yingluck's brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, to return to power. Thaksin was ousted in a coup in 2006 and has been living in self-imposed exile in Dubai.
Many of Yingluck Shinawatra's opponents say her brother is calling the shots in Thailand through her.
Analysts say that it's too soon to tell whether the military's declaration of martial law will ease tensions or heighten them.
"This is a precarious time now for the army," Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political science professor at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok says. "They have to be evenhanded.
"If it's seen as favoring one side or the other side, then we could see more violence and turmoil against the military."
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