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BANGKOK PROTESTS

POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN THAILAND ON MARCH 17

POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN THAILAND  ON MARCH 17
By etn staff writer | Mar 17, 2010

hrs Bangkok time

The anti-government rallies staged by the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) have continued largely peacefully, as protesters carry on their rallies at the following designated demonstration sites in Bangkok. - The main demonstration site at Ratchadamnoen Avenue - Makkawan Rangsan Bridge near Government House

The UDD are also required to notify authorities in advance of plans to stage ad hoc rallies in other areas of the city. The UDD leadership has pledged that the rallies will remain peaceful.

To avoid traffic congestion and difficulty of movement on roads leading to the designated rally sites, it is best to travel by BTS Skytrain or the MRT (Bangkok Subway).

TAT recommends that foreign tourists and visitors to Thailand call the 24-hour Tourist Police Hotline — 1155 — for the latest updates on traffic conditions and roads to avoid. The TAT Hotline and Call Centre — 1672 — also provides 24-hours service. TAT recommends that foreign tourists and visitors to Thailand call 1672 for tourist assistance. In the event that further coordination or facilitation is needed, they will be directed to the nearest TAT Tourist Information Centre.

The Thai Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, reiterated that his government respects people's rights to peaceful assembly held in accordance with the law, and that it has no intention whatsoever of using violent means against the protestors.

Life in Bangkok continues as normal. Tourism attractions in the city of Bangkok and in all key destinations around Thailand are not at all affected and remain open for business. Both city airports (Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang) are operating as normal. All other international and domestic airports in Thailand remain fully operational.Department stores and shopping malls in Bangkok and around Thailand are open for business. Tourism activities in all other areas of Bangkok and around Thailand continue as usual. MICE venues are also operating as normal.

Given the large number of people expected to attend such rallies, on 9 March 2010, the Thai Cabinet approved the use of the Internal Security Act B.E. 2551 (2008) in the areas of Bangkok and certain districts of seven nearby provinces from 11 to 23 March 2010.

These are: Areas of Bangkok
Nonthaburi Province
Pathumthani Province
Samut Sakhon Province
Samut Prakan Province
Nakhon Pathom Province
Chachoengsao Province
Ayutthaya Province

The decision to invoke the ISA is deemed necessary as a precautionary step to ensure law and order. The ISA enables security agencies — police, military and civilian – to more effectively integrate their effort and take measures provided for under the Act and applicable laws to prevent and mitigate, as much as possible, undue disruption or impact on the safety of the general public.

The law does not prohibit nor obstruct peaceful demonstrations held within the bounds of the law. The Royal Thai Government respects people’s constitutional right to peaceful assembly, while the security measures to be put in place would help ensure security and peaceful and orderly assembly of the demonstrators. Clear instructions have been given to all security agencies that officers exercise the utmost restraint, and should the situation escalate, that they take a graduated response — from light to heavy measures — in accordance with internationally accepted practices, with due respect to human rights principles.

For tourists visiting the Kingdom, it should be stressed that foreigners have not been targeted in the on-going political conflict. However, foreigners are advised to be vigilant, and avoid areas where crowds may gather.

Other than the areas under the ISA, travel to all other parts of the kingdom has not been affected. Tourism activities in all other areas continue as normal.

Thai Tourism Industry representatives are on stand-by to provide round-the-clock assistance to foreign tourists and visitors.The Tourism Authority of Thailand Tourism Intelligence Unit and Crisis Communication Centre (TIC) serves as an operations centre for state and private sector consultative meetings and joint planning sessions and enables TAT and representatives from the Thai tourism industry to plan and execute rapid and orchestrated responses. From 11 March onwards, TIC will be staffed 24 hours a day. Representatives from Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Tourist Police, the Thai Hotels Association (THA), the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), and the General Insurance Association will also be on duty at the centre.

HOTLINES & CALL CENTRE NUMBERS
TAT Call Centre 1672
Tourist Police 1155
General Insurance Association 1356

AREAS TO BE AVOIDED
- Ratchadamnoen Avenue
- Makkawan Rangsan Bridge near Government House
- The 11th Infantry Regiment on Phahon Yothin Road, Bangkhen

Source: TAT
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