Internal Security Act put in place to quell Bangkok protesters
Demonstrations that started last month to protest an amnesty bill which was designed to allow former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to return home took a turn for the worse for the government yesterday.
The amnesty bill was eventually voted down in the Senate or upper house but protesters have now turned their attention to what they call the ‘Thaksin regime’, his sister Yingluck is the current prime minister.
Yesterday protesters numbering several thousand, although the protests were estimated at around 150,000 demonstrators on Sunday, occupied the finance and foreign ministry buildings. At the same time the opposition Democrat Party said that it would call a no-confidence vote in the government today (Tuesday).
Yesterday Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra decided to extend the enforcement of the 2008 Internal Security Act (ISA) to cover all of Bangkok and surrounding areas where the protests are taking place.
Three strategic districts of Bangkok have been under the law since August as it became clear that the two year period of comparatively few demonstrations was coming to an end.
The full press release on the ISA announcement as published on the Government Public relations department website is as follows:
“Government Extends the Enforcement of the Internal Security Act (26/11/2013)
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has announced the Government’s decision to extend the enforcement of the 2008 Internal Security Act (ISA), after the anti-government protesters stepped up their protests.
The statement was broadcast on television on the night of 25 November 2013. ISA now covers all of Bangkok and Nonthaburi, as well as Samut Prakan’s Bang Phli district and Pathum Thani’s Lat Lum Kaeo district, until 31 December 2013.
The previous ISA covered eight sub districts in three districts of Bangkok – Dusit district, Phra Nakhon, and Pom Prap Sattru Phai – until 30 November 2013.
Appearing on television, Prime Minister Yingluck explained to the public the reasons behind the Government’s decision to extend the use of ISA. She said that the Government respects the freedom of expression by the people. At the same time, it will not ignore the enforcement of law in order to maintain peace and order and ensure national security.
She said that the Government needed to extend the enforcement of ISA, as anti-government protesters have blockaded government offices, such as the Ministry of Finance, the Bureau of the Budget, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Public Relations Department. The blockades and other movements have caused trouble to the people and threatened national security.
The Prime Minister stressed that the Government would not use violence and would take every step based on international practices and within the bounds of the law. She called on government officials to perform their duties in accordance with the guidelines set by the Government.
She also reaffirmed that the Government is willing to listen to the views of all sides.
The Internal Security Operations Command is responsible for preventing and controlling the situation that undermines national security, according to the Government’s announcement.”