Thai government rejects compromise of peace talks overseen by senate

Every day in Bangkok, hopes of a breakthrough that might end the violent crisis are raised. And every day such hopes are dashed.

Yesterday it was the turn of the Thai government to dismiss the latest offer for talks by the Red Shirts who have been holed up in the centre of Bangkok for two months. The protesters had said they were ready to drop their demand that the UN mediates any talks between the two sides and instead have members of the country's senate oversee the negotiations.

But the government, headed by prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, said it would only join talks once the protesters had left their fortified encampment and gone home. This is something the Red Shirts have also rejected, claiming that they would lose their leverage.

"They are still fighting. They are still killing more people," said Weng Tojirakarn, a senior Red Shirts leader. "We had requested that the United Nations mediate the talks, but that would take so long. That is why we requested the senate."

Instead of the government and protesters getting together yesterday, skirmishes between troops and Red Shirts continued, adding to the total of 39 people killed and almost 300 injured in just the past five days. In all, 67 people have keen killed since the crisis escalated in March.

The latest flash-point for violence was the Din Daeng district, north of the shopping area that is occupied by about 5,000 protesters. In Din Daeng, troops fired warning shots as protesters burned kerosene-soaked tyres and hurled petrol bombs.

At least two protesters were shot, said the Reuters news agency. By yesterday evening, a Siam City Bank branch was on fire and loud blasts could be heard. In another twist in the long-running saga, a group of about 20 protesters stripped down to their underwear to protest the military's action. Their aim was to stress that they are unarmed civilians.

But if peace is to be brokered and further bloodshed avoided, it is going to take more than such stunts. Both sides have said they are willing to compromise and sources have said that, at least until recently, there have been back-channel contacts between the two sides.

The authorities appear increasingly aware that images being broadcast around the world show a conflict that is deeply uneven. While the Thai troops are heavily armed with automatic weapons and shotguns, the protesters are carrying mainly petrol bombs, sling-shots and fireworks, though some reports claim a small number may also have handguns.

Business leaders are also increasingly aware of the toll that crisis is taking on a country where tourism accounts for up to six per cent of GPD.

The Finance Minister, Korn Chatikavanij, said: "We have to admit that the long-running protest has been affecting the capability and opportunities for businesses, including those not in the protest area."

Many of the Red Shirts are supporters of the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a military coup in 2006 while he was out of the country. The coup was apparently supported by a number of conservative and regressive groups within the country, opposed to his populism.

Instead, the twice-elected Mr Thaksin drew his support from many of the rural poor, especially from Thailand's north and north-east. It is those same people who now make up many of the Red Shirt protesters holed-up in the encampment in the centre of Bangkok, defiantly refusing to leave but hoping for a breakthrough.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
One Direction's Zayn Malik gazes at a bouquet of flowers in the 'Night Changes' music video
people
News
people
News
'Free the Nipple' film screening after party with We Are The XX, New York, America - 04 Feb 2014
news
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity to...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Manager - Production

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Managers are required to join the UK's...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn