5) After Class, Thai Standoff Deepens

By:  David Eisenberg
Pace International Law Review, Junior Associate

After nearly a month of peaceful protests, the politic standoff in Bangkok has taken a turn for the worse.  The political upheaval, triggered by the Thai Government’s refusal to order new elections, has so far resulted in over 900 people being wounded and twenty-one people being killed.  This recent series of violent protests is called the worst civil violence in Thailand in nearly twenty years.
In a country where the military has seized power eighteen times in the past eighty years, talks of a possible coup have been resurfacing as protestors continue their aggressiveness towards government forces.  The Government forces have become seriously concerned about the growing protests of the “third force,” an activist group bent on destabilizing the government, who continue to lead marches in the streets armed with firearms and explosives.

The protestors are calling for the resignation of Abhisit Vejjajiva, the current Prime Minister of Thailand.  Mr. Vejjajiva took office in December 2008 through the use of political maneuvering, rather than a popular vote.  Already dissatisfied with the Government when he took office, the poor majority of Thailand has been growing increasingly angry over the Government’s failure to attend to their needs.  These so-called “Red Shirts,” have been camping out in downtown Bangkok for the past month, and have devoted themselves to asserting the rights of the individual voters.  Opposed to this movement is the “Yellow Shirts,” a group of traditional middle class business owners. 

Although the outcome remains uncertain, one sure consequence of this uprising is the effect that it will take on tourism.  Many hotels in the area have already been forced to close their doors to guests, as violence has spread too close to the buildings.  In addition, there is a strong possibility that future tourists will be dissuaded from traveling to Thailand for fear of another armed conflict.  As a result, the nation and people of Thailand will likely lose millions of dollars in revenue.

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