Thailand’s government declared a state of emergency on Tuesday in Bangkok and surrounding areas amid massive protests that have rocked the country since last November.
The Bangkok Post reports that the “invocation of the law was widely expected.” Indeed, as NPR’s Eyder Peralta reported, 28 people were injured by a blast during an anti-government rally in Bangkok on Sunday. And a grenade attack on a march last Friday killed one person.
Labor Minister Chalerm Yubumrung said the emergency measures, which go into effect Wednesday, will last for 60 days. Anti-government protesters are trying to stop elections, scheduled for Feb. 2.
Reporter Michael Sullivan tells NPR’s All Things Considered that the protesters “know they would lose those elections to the government currently in power.” He adds:
“The people who are on the streets in Bangkok now represent a minority of the Thai population. They represent the royalists, the traditional elite here, the middle class, the upper middle class. And the majority of the people in Thailand actually live somewhere else. And they live either outside, in the rural areas of Thailand, or [are] the urban poor who work for the people who are demonstrating.”
Thailand’s main opposition Democrat Party hasn’t won an election in 20 years.
But Suthep Thaugsuban, who has been leading the protests, said the rallies would continue.
“We will defy them all,” he told his supporters. “We will march on every road they have banned [us from marching on]. We will use loudspeakers even if they prohibit us from doing so. We will do everything they forbid us to do.”