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November 30, 2008

Tourists struggle to escape as airport blockage enters sixth day

Sunday, November 30, 2008

With dire warnings that the number of stranded tourists in Thailand could rise as high as 300,000, thousands are attempting to leave the country via U-tapao airport in Rayong, around 150km south-east of the capital Bangkok. The blockade of the two main international airports by People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) supporters is now in its sixth day. Tensions continue to rise with a pro-government rally planned for today and police surrounding the main international airport, Suvarnabhumi.

With the old international airport, Don Mueang, still in PAD hands, the red-shirted pro-government United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) has supporters massing at the offices of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration. A “Truth Today” talk show is planned for later on although, unlike previous events, the fugitive ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra is not expected to feature. Organisers have indicated there are no plans to confront the PAD, but non-specific threats to act where the government has not done so have been made in the past.

Thailand’s Prime Minister remains in Chiang Mai in the north of the country having declared a state of emergency around the two sieged airports on Friday. The move prompted the PAD to move protesters inside terminal buildings and post volunteer guards. Yesterday moves by police to evict the protesters failed, and their vehicles were seized as they retreated.

Adding to calls from the army for the beleaguered People’s Power Party (PPP) government to stand down, the Thai Chamber of Commerce labelled the administration as incompetent; some Chamber of Commerce members made the suggestion that businesses should cease paying taxes if the request is ignored.


Related news

Sources

  • Phusadee Arunmas, Manop Thip-osod and Sirikul Bunnag “PAD force police retreat”. The Bangkok Post, November 30, 2008
  • “Red-shirted people rally at Bangkok city hall”. The Nation (Thailand), November 30, 2008
  • “Rush to get out”. The Bangkok Post, November 30, 2008
  • Chatrudee Theparat and Chadamas Chinmaneevong “No way out”. The Bangkok Post, November 29, 2008

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