Newspaper article International New York Times

Bangkok Region Comes under Emergency Rule ; Decree Allows Curfews, Censorship and the Use of Military Force

Newspaper article International New York Times

Bangkok Region Comes under Emergency Rule ; Decree Allows Curfews, Censorship and the Use of Military Force

Article excerpt

The emergency decree enacted on Tuesday gives the government the power to invoke curfews, censor the media, disperse gatherings -- and ultimately to use "military force."

The embattled government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra declared emergency rule in Bangkok and surrounding areas on Tuesday, suggesting a more aggressive posture toward antigovernment protesters who have occupied parts of the city during the past two months and are seeking to overthrow the government.

But officials said they had no plans to crack down on protesters, who have escalated their campaign during the past week by blocking government offices, taking over major intersections and staging daily marches across Bangkok. And at least so far, the government has taken no steps to impose curfews, censor the news media or disperse gatherings, as allowed under the emergency decree.

The decree also allows the government to use "military force" to "secure order."

Thailand's foreign minister, Surapong Tovichakchaikul, said the move was necessary because protesters had broken the law by blocking government offices and banks in recent days and threatening and harassing government officials. The imposition of the decree will "allow the democratic process and Thailand to move forward," he said.

Protesters have been attacked by unidentified assailants in recent days and three grenade attacks left one person dead and dozens injured. The government and the protesters have blamed each other for those attacks.

The emergency decree, which is valid for 60 days, was passed under the same law that a different government used in 2010 to begin a military crackdown that left dozens of people dead. Underlining the seesaw power struggle that has gripped Thailand for the better part of the past eight years, the man responsible for the crackdown four years ago, Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister, is now leading the antigovernment protests.

"I know about this well," Mr. …

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