Farmers blockade Commerce Ministry, push for Yingluck ouster


BANGKOK, Feb 19 – Outraged farmers sealed off all entrances to the Commerce Ministry today and announced an unending demonstration until caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra resigns.

Farmers from several rice-producing provinces have rallied at the ministry for the last three weeks, demanding overdue payments from the rice pledging scheme.

The government has yet to pay Bt130 billion to farmers countrywide for rice in the 2013/2014 crop.

Farmers chained both entrances of the ministry in what they called a “total seizure” which obstructed civil servants from working in the building.

They called on Ms Yingluck to resign to pave the way for what they called a new, authorised government to resolve problems arising from rice subsidies.

Rawee Rungruang, leader of the Thai Farmers Network, ruled out political motivation behind the farmers’ demonstration, insisting that farmers have been in deep financial trouble pending the government’s payments for the rice they have sold.

He said farmers from several other provinces were heading for Bangkok to join the protest.

The Lawyers Council of Thailand which has offered help to farmers has received more than 10,000 complaints against the government and expected at least 2,000 more cases today.

The council promised to urgently file lawsuits with the court which will also be requested to order the government to immediately sell rice in its stockpiles to get money for farmers.

The Commerce Ministry is meeting with rice millers and farmer representatives today to find measures to help rice growers who are in urgent need of money.