Communist Party of Australia

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Issue #1621      December 4, 2013

Protesters storm army HQ

Protesters in Thailand stormed the grounds of the national army headquarters.

The protesters said that they were asking the military to support their campaign to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

In a letter addressed to the army chief, the protesters stopped short of calling for a coup but urged military leaders to “take a stand” in Thailand’s political crisis and state which side they are on. The crowd of 2,500 people stayed on the lawn of the Royal Thai Army compound for two hours before filing out peacefully.

For the past two weeks, thousands of anti-government protesters have marched in Bangkok in a bid to unseat Yingluck, whom they accuse of serving as a proxy for her controversial billionaire brother.

Protesters branched out to several spots, with another crowd staging a rally outside the headquarters of Yingluck’s ruling Pheu Thai party, where hundreds of riot police stood guard to prevent them from entering.

A separate crowd of more than 1,000 marched through central Bangkok to the US embassy. Opposition MP and former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij delivered a letter denouncing Yingluck’s leadership as illegitimate, in response to a statement from Washington that had expressed concern about the protests.

Despite heavy security elsewhere, the army headquarters was apparently not expecting the protesters, who had little trouble getting past a locked iron gate.

“From what I understand, there was a padlock on the gate. They broke it and let themselves in,” said army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

The government has been reluctant to use force against the opposition-led protesters for fear of escalating the crisis. Security forces have done little to stop protesters who have been seizing government buildings in an effort to force a government shutdown while asking civil servants to join their rally.

Crowds of protesters have occupied the Finance Ministry and others have remained holed up at a sprawling government complex that houses the Department of Special Investigations, the country’s equivalent of the FBI.

Demonstrators cut power at Bangkok’s police headquarters and asked police to join their side.

Morning Star

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