Seattle Thais rally for Thailand reforms

Seattle area Thais gathered at the American Legion Hall in North Seattle to protest the current government of Thailand. (Photo by Sue Misao/NWAW)

More than 100 Thais and Americans gathered at the American Legion hall in Shoreline Feb. 1 to stage a protest against the government of Thailand, and to demand reforms in that country before Sunday’s elections. The group was acting in solidarity with the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) – opposition leaders and citizens who have been protesting the current government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for several months. The protesters say Shinawatra is corrupt and should be replaced by an unelected council that would enact reforms. Yingluck has refused to step down, saying she was democratically elected.

The Associated Press reported that Thai elections went forward on Sunday without bloodshed, but thousands of polling booths were blocked by protesters and forced to close in Bangkok and the south, leaving millions of voters disenfranchised.

The unfinished vote leaves Parliament seats unfilled, and more elections are needed to fill them, according to the AP. The next election is set for Feb. 23.

Saturday’s rally in Seattle coincided with rallies across the nation and the world, said Peter Tangpiankij, one of the event’s organizers.

“The election is a sham,” said Tangpiankij, who said his group has sent formal statements to Thai election officials, the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, the General Consulate in Los Angeles, and others.

“We need to fight to the end,” said Tangpiankij, “even if people have to get injured and lose their lives.”

Among the speakers at Saturday’s rally was Bill Monson, a Seattle-based cable television businessman who has been battling the previous prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra — brother to Yingluck — in the Thai courts since 1989. Monson claims Thaksin violated an agreement they had to jointly operate a cable television business, stole Monson’s equipment, and filed criminal charges against Monson.

Although he is currently exiled from Thailand, Thaksin is believed by many of the protesters to be in control of the government through his sister’s rule.

“Thaksin is a master of deceit,” said Monson. (end)

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