Special Report: MFA allays international community's concern over state of emergency rule

Sunday, 26 January 2014 By  NNT

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs assured foreign diplomats earlier this week that the Thai government would not use force to disperse anti-government protesters following the invocation of the emergency decree. 

The meeting with 31 dignitaries from 73 countries came after the government had decided to invoke emergency law in Bangkok for two months to control ongoing political protests. The decision also followed a string of travel advisories issued against Thailand by several countries around the world.

The United States has recently condemned increasing violence at anti-government protests and Hong Kong issued a 'black alert' warning its citizens to avoid traveling to Bangkok. Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have even advised their citizens to cancel travel plans for the time being.

Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Sihasak Phuangketkeow said in a briefing that the enforcement of the decree was triggered by concerns over a series of drive-by shootings and bombings at rally sites. On the other side of the coin, protesters have also attempted to obstruct electoral processes and have reportedly intimidated government officials.

He assured diplomats that the government is not setting out to disperse protesters as long as they stage their demonstrations peacefully. The state of emergency rule is seen as preemptive move to curb future violence.

The government has banned gatherings of five or more people deemed to be trying to incite unrest as part of its measures to quickly put to an end to the emergency situation. On Friday police also issued the first notice under the emergency decree prohibiting individuals or groups of people from entering 13 building compounds and 25 roads unless authorised to do so.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Sek Wannamethee said the government has only invoked section 11 of the decree. The police are set to play an active role in enforcing rules while the military will take on a supporting role. He noted that if the situation escalates, security agencies will handle the protests in accordance with international standards.

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