Thailand prolongs emergency rule over swathes of country

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - 14:36

Bangkok: Thailand on Tuesday extended by three
months a state of emergency across about one quarter of the
country, including Bangkok, due to lingering fears of unrest
following deadly protests.

The move comes despite warnings from human rights
campaigners that the authorities` use of the sweeping
emergency powers lacks transparency and suppresses freedom of
The emergency decree, imposed in April after a mass
opposition rally began in the capital, will be maintained for
three more months in 19 provinces, out of a total of 76, but
lifted in five others, officials said.

"The cabinet endorsed the lifting of the state of
emergency in five provinces," deputy government spokesman
Supachai Jaismut said. "Emergency rule will still be imposed
in the rest."

The strict laws ban public gatherings of more than five
people and give security forces the right to detain suspects
for 30 days without charge.

Two months of mass anti-government protests by the "Red
Shirt" movement, pushing for immediate elections, sparked
outbreaks of violence that left 90 people dead, mostly
civilians, and nearly 1,900 injured.

The government rejected a call from the opposition for
the emergency decree to be revoked for a parliamentary
by-election in Bangkok on July 25.

A Red Shirt leader detained on charges of terrorism is
running in the vote as a candidate for the opposition Puea
Thai Party.

Security officials yesterday proposed extending the state
of emergency, warning that some weapons seized during the
anti-government protests were still missing.
But a leading think-tank, International Crisis Group,
voiced concern yesterday that the emergency laws had empowered
authorities to stifle the anti-government movement and should
be lifted at once.


First Published: Tuesday, July 6, 2010 - 14:36

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