BANGKOK: A week after the violent protests broke out in the Thailand capital, Bangkok; it seems now that tension may have come close to an end while anti-government protesters are claiming that they are victorious.
The protest rally which began on November 24 with an estimated 180,000 people demanding removal of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had been largely peaceful until Saturday, when they became violent.
Police were forced to carry out crackdown on protesters and fire teargas canisters and rubber bullets to control the situation as clashes with the protesters went on getting intensified as days passed on. During a week of protests, at least three people were killed and 230 others were injured in Bangkok.
The anti-government protesters also seized several high-profile targets including ministries in the Thai capital in recent days.
However, on Tuesday the Thai government claimed that it had ordered all police to withdraw and stop fighting with anti-government protesters in order to avoid violence and confrontation.
“The protesters said they want to seize government buildings, but the government doesn’t want to see any fighting or confrontation so we’ve ordered the police to back off,” the government spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi said.
“We want to avoid violence and confrontation,” he added.
Subsequently, Thai protesters entered the government’s headquarters after police removed barricades from outside both Government House and the Metropolitan Police Headquarters.
“This is a victory for us. This is a victory for the protesters,” said a demonstrator. “The police pulled back, because they know that if this does not stop, more people will get hurt, more people will die.”
Meanwhile, Thailand’s opposition leader Suthep Thaugsuban told reporters that “Today we won a partial victory but we will fight on until the Thaksin regime has been driven out.”
Irrespective of the fact, the Thai government ordered police to stop confronting protesters demanding the resignation of the PM and police removed fortified barriers blocking protesters from entering the prime minister’s office, Yingluck Shinawatra has rejected protesters’ demands that she step down.
The Thai prime minister said that she was open to negotiations but that calls for the government to be replaced by an appointed council were illegal and unconstitutional.
The fresh round of protest rallies by anti-government protesters began demanding the resignation of Prime Minister because her government had brought an amnesty bill which would pave the way for the former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, the brother of incumbent PM Shinawatras, to return without facing any trial.
Though the government later dropped the bill but rallied continued as the opposition protesters claimed that Prime Minister Shinawatra’s government is controlled by her brother.
Thaksin, who was ousted from power by the military in 2006 on charges of corruption and disrespect for the country’s constitutional monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej, has been living in exile.