Thai Protesters Won’t Give Up; Emergency Declared

BANGKOK, ThailandProtesters on Friday declined a request by Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat to end their blockades of Bangkok’s two airports, saying they would oppose any efforts by police to displace them.

The government declared a state of emergency at the Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in Bangkok late yesterday, empowering police to clear demonstrations and public gatherings of more than five people, with army backup.

Under a state of emergency, the government can suspend civil liberties, ban public gatherings and take other measures to restore order without imposing broader restrictions that many Thais have feared.

The clamor from nations with stranded citizens is growing ever more strident and the price of the occupation is taking an ever-increasing toll.

The New York Times reported on its website that protesters girded for a clash with police, displaying a large yellow banner that read “Final Battle!!!”

“If the police come to crack down, let them do it,” said Chamlong Srimuang, a 73-year-old former army general who is one of the leaders of the protest.

Thousands of anti-government People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protesters forced the 125,000-passenger-a-day complex to shut down.

Their weapons are everything from wooden stakes and rusting scythes to golf clubs.

Thailand’s political clash began three months ago when the PAD occupied the prime minister’s office compound and has paralyzed the government, battered the stock market and dealt a serious blow to the country’s $15 billion tourism industry.

Photo: AFP