Archive for the ‘protesters’ Category

Thai government demotes national police chief

November 28, 2008

Thailand‘s government demoted the national police chief on Friday after he failed to end a siege of the capital’s airports by anti-government protesters.

By AMBIKA AHUJA and CHRIS BLAKE, Associated Press Writers

Hundreds of demonstrators, demanding the government’s ouster, stormed Suvarnabhumi international airport on Tuesday and took over the smaller Don Muang domestic airport a day later. The capital remains completely cut off from air traffic, stranding thousands of travelers and dealing severe blows to the economy.

Government spokesman Nattawut Sai-Kau said National Police Chief Gen. Pacharawat Wongsuwan has been moved to an inactive post in the prime minister’s office.

Nattawut declined to comment on the order, issued by Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat.

It was not clear if Pacharawat was removed because the police failed to evict the protesters, but it could be because he apparently made no attempt to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis, as the government had asked.

Interior Minister Kowit Wattana met with police at a precinct near Suvarnabhumi on Friday.

About 200 police, carrying riot gears and shields, were seen outside airport offices, which are about 400 yards (meters) from the terminal where the protesters are camped out.

The airport takeover capped months of demonstrations by the protesters, who belong to the People’s Alliance for Democracy. They took over the prime minister’s office three months ago, virtually paralyzing the government.

They say they won’t give up until the government steps down.

“We are ready to defend ourselves against any government’s operations to get us out of those places,” said Parnthep Wongpuapan, an alliance spokesman.


Myanmar: Long sentences for democracy advocates

November 11, 2008

Courts in military-ruled Myanmar delivered a devastating blow Tuesday to the nation’s pro-democracy movement, sentencing two dozen activists to harsh prison terms that will keep them behind bars long past a 2010 election.

Associated Press

Fourteen members of the Generation 88 Students group were sentenced to prison terms of 65 years each, and a labor activist, Su Su Nway, was sentenced to 12 1/2 years. Ten people allied with Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy got jail terms of eight to 24 years.

Many of the activists were involved in protests last year that led to huge pro-democracy demonstrations that the army put down by force. According to U.N. estimates, at least 31 people were killed and thousands of demonstrators were detained. Many fled the country or went underground.

Most of the sentences were handed down in closed-court sessions. The lengths of the terms suggest the junta will pay little heed to calls from the U.N. and many Western nations to make its self-styled transition to democracy more fair and inclusive.

Amnesty International said the court actions were “a powerful reminder that Myanmar’s military government is ignoring calls by the international community to clean up its human rights record.”

“This sentencing sends a clear signal that it will not tolerate views contrary to its own,” the group said in a statement.

Amnesty and other international human rights groups say the junta holds more than 2,100 political prisoners, up sharply from nearly 1,200 in June 2007 — before the pro-democracy demonstrations.

The prisoners include Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest — as she has been on and off since 1989.

The European Union said Monday that the multiparty elections scheduled for 2010 will be seen as illegitimate unless the junta frees all political prisoners. Suu Kyi’s party won the most seats in a 1990 election, but the military refused to let it take power.

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‘Most wanted’ list out as China tightens pressure over Tibet

March 21, 2008
By Karl Malakunas

BEIJING (AFP) – China stepped up its pressure on Tibetan protesters on Friday, releasing photos of wanted suspects who were captured on film in the worst rioting against Chinese rule in Tibet in nearly 20 years.

But with security forces having been poured into Tibet and other Tibetan-populated areas of China, rights groups and activists warned of mass arrests and the possible torture of those taken into custody.

With China keen to put its best face forward ahead of the Olympic Games in Beijing in August, US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi had harsh words for China as she met the Dalai Lama in India.

“The situation in Tibet is a challenge to the conscience of the world,” said Pelosi, who was greeted by thousands of flag-waving Tibetan exiles as she arrived for talks Friday with Tibet’ s exiled spiritual leader.

“What is happening, the world needs to know,” she said.

Faced with international concern over its handling of the unrest that erupted last week against Chinese rule in Tibet, state media acknowledged for the first time that police had opened fire on protesters.

Myanmar troops kill 9 more protesters

September 28, 2007

YANGON, Myanmar – Soldiers with automatic rifles fired into crowds of anti-government demonstrators Thursday, killing at least nine people in the bloodiest day in more than a month of protests demanding an end to military rule.

On the second day of a brutal crackdown, truckloads of troops in riot gear also raided Buddhist monasteries on the outskirts of Yangon, beating and arresting dozens of monks, witnesses and Western diplomats said. Japan protested the killing of a Japanese photographer.

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China Deports First Olympics Related Protesters

August 9, 2007

BEIJING – China deported a group of activists who hung a banner on the Great Wall calling for Tibetan independence ahead of celebrations marking one year until the Beijing Olympics, an activist group said Thursday.

The six members of Students for a Free Tibet arrived in Hong Kong on Wednesday following their two-day detention by Chinese authorities, said Kate Woznow, the group’s campaign director. They were not physically mistreated during that time but were exhausted from repeated questioning, she said.

Three Americans were part of the group: Leslie Kaup of St. Paul, Minn., Nupur Modi of Oakland, Calif., and Duane Martinez of Sausalito, Calif.

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Thailand to deploy 1,400 troops around Bangkok

July 27, 2007

July 27, 2007

BANGKOK (AFP) – At least 1,400 soldiers will be deployed around Thailand’s capital this weekend to reinforce security amid fears of fresh violence during anti-coup protests, a junta spokesman said Friday.

The troops “will patrol in the capital and set up checkpoints to guarantee safety. We have stepped up security around Bangkok to ensure the general public will not see any violence,” he told AFP.

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Thailand to deploy troops to anti-coup protests

July 27, 2007

BANGKOK (AFP) – Thailand‘s junta chief said Friday that he will deploy troops to reinforce security measures by police at anti-coup protests this weekend.

“I have already told the army commander for the central region to deploy troops to back up the work of police officers to handle the situation from now on,” said General Sonthi Boonyaratglin.

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Toward a less democratic Thailand

Vietnam: U.S. Congresswoman Expresses Concern

July 25, 2007

July 24, 2007

Washington, D.C. – Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) today sent a letter to Vietnamese President Triet, expressing her “serious disappointment regarding the treatment of the peaceful protesters in Ho Chi Minh City on July 18, 2007.” The letter, which calls on the Vietnamese President to personally explain the brutal crackdown on peaceful human rights activists, was also forwarded to Secretary of State Rice. The letter also states that Vietnam is failing to meet the human rights standards that the Unites States expects from its trading partners and that it must make a strong commitment to the promotion of human rights.

  Zoe Lofgren

The complete text of the letter is below:July 24, 2007 His Excellency
President Triet
c/o Embassy of Vietnam
1233 20th Street, NW #400
Washington, DC 20036

Dear President Triet: 

I am writing to express my serious disappointment regarding the treatment of the peaceful protesters in Ho Chi Minh City on July 18, 2007.  It is my understanding that approximately 1,500 Vietnamese police were dispatched to break up a peaceful sit-in of 1,700 peasants.  I have seen reports that approximately 30 peasants were severely injured through acts of violence by the police. 

As a Member of Congress who has advocated for human rights in Vietnam, I am very concerned about these reports of police violence at a peaceful sit-in.  I am especially concerned given that you recently visited with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on June 22 and she expressed to you the importance of human rights in the relationship between the United States and Vietnam.  She and other Members of Congress have made it clear that if the relationship between our two countries is to develop, Vietnam must make a strong commitment to the promotion of human rights. 

In fact, prior to Vietnam’s accession to the World Trade Organization, you and President Bush affirmed that human rights must be an inexorable part of Vietnam’s integration into the world community.  These sentiments were echoed by President Bush during your recent visit to the United States. 

Given the discussion of the importance of human rights at your June 2007 meeting with Speaker Pelosi and Members of Congress, I am disappointed and disturbed by the reports of police brutality in Ho Chi Minh City on July 18, 2007.  I expect to see the Government of Vietnam pay serious attention to human rights.  The continued reports of human rights violations in Vietnam in the recent months are failing to convince the people of the United States that Vietnam meets the human rights standards expected of trading partners and members of the international community. 

I would like to hear from you directly why these violent actions were taken by the police against peaceful protestors.


Zoe Lofgren

Member of Congress

Vietnam: Farmers Protest Government Land Seizures

Violent anti-coup protest hits Thailand

July 23, 2007

By SUTIN WANNABOVORN, Associated Press Writer

BANGKOK, Thailand – The most violent anti-coup protests to hit Thailand since last year’s military takeover sparked charges Monday against an alleged ringleader and five others, hours after 270 were injured in the three-hour melee.

Thousands of protesters and police squared off Sunday in the Thai capital, leaving about 200 officers and 70 demonstrators injured.

The protest against Thailand’s military-installed government….

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