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Anti – Amnesty Bill Protests Fizzle as Thai Lawmakers Begin Debate

Anti-government protesters wave Thai flags next to barbed wire during a demonstration in Bangkok

Anti-government protesters wave Thai flags next to barbed wire during a demonstration in Bangkok

 

BANGKOK – Demonstration against proposed amnesty bill organized by opposition Democrat Party ended peacefully Wednesday morning as the police allow only Democrat MPs to enter the restricted area around the Parliament House.

Thai Lower House is now deliberating the bill, sponsored by the Phue Thai government. The anti-government groups believed the bill will whitewash former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and other political wrongdoers.

The Democrat MPs and a few thousand protesters around 9 a.m. local time marched from their protest site at Urupong Intersection in Ratchathevi district. The Democrat MPs had planned to have the protesters accompanied them to the Parliament House, although the party knew the protesters could not get near the venue because of the Internal Security Act (ISA), which bans protesters from entering three districts surrounding the Parliament House.

The anti-government rally, organized by the opposition party, started Tuesday night and continued into Wednesday morning. The party’s core members, including former Prime Minister and party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, took turn to speak on the rally stage.

“We will do our job to stop this amnesty bill, a bill that would grant amnesty to human rights abusers during the 2010 events. We are going to show strength in our opposition. Lots of people are with us. But we will exercise our rights within the constitutional law,” Abhisit told Xinhua during the march.

When they approached the police barricade around the restricted area, the police prevented the protesters from entering. Democrat’ s Suthep Thaugsuban tried to negotiate with the police, but failed. Later,only Democrat MPs entered the restricted area through the Parliament House.

Suthep said although the protesters cannot get inside, the Democrat will do its best to stop the amnesty draft bill. Asked if Democrat will organize another protest, Suthep said it is the matter to be decided in the future. For the time being, the Democrat will fight in the parliament, but if it fails, the party members will consider whether to call for another demonstration.

Apart from the Democrat-led demonstration, the People’s Army held a rally at Lumpini Park. The group announced on Wednesday afternoon that they would not move anywhere on Wednesday and will wait and see how the deliberation in the parliament goes.

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