International Ministries

Thailand in Need of Prayer

May 19, 2010 Journal
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Many friends have inquired about the political situation in Thailand at this time. This is a very cursory summary, as far as I understand it: There is a group of people calling themselves the “Red Shirts” or “UDD”. They are funded by the 23rd Prime Minister of Thailand, and multi-billionaire, Thaksin Shinawatra. During Thaksin’s tenure, he instituted highly popular policies to alleviate rural poverty and improve education. However, Thaksin was also responsible for a range of human rights violations, and illegal financial transactions. Since his removal from office by a military coup in 2006, Thaksin has been tried and convicted of tax evasion. He evaded arrest and fled the country to avoid serving a prison sentence.

Thaksin’s supporters initiated a protest on March 12, calling for the immediate resignation of the current Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, and the dissolution of the House of Parliament. Protesters are receiving a daily stipend of at least 500 Baht per day, which is about three times the minimum wage.

On April 10th, protests became violent, and the Thai authorities stepped in. Twenty-five people were killed, including both soldiers and protesters and over eight hundred people were wounded.   On Friday, April 23, five grenades were launched from the encampment of the Red Shirts in the Silom area of Bangkok, killing one person, and wounding eighty-six. The government has imposed a state of “emergency rule”, and the military has been assigned to respond to the protesters.   About 2 weeks ago, the Prime Minister came to an agreement with the “Red Shirt” leaders, in which he agreed to allow free elections in Nov. 14, giving all parties time to mount campaigns, and would accept the results of the election. But just hours after the agreement was made, the “Red Shirts” changed their minds, and withdrew from the agreement. Thai authorities have expressed great restraint, and willingness to compromise, but the “Red Shirts” refuse to accept anything less than the immediate resignation of the Prime Minister, and dissolution of the Parliament.

 Protests continued in Bangkok, and the “Red Shirts” escalated the pressure through committing acts of increasing violence and vandalism, attacking banks, and setting fire to a subway station. Just days ago, “Red Shirts” were videotaped using women and children as human shields at the barricades. After multiple warnings over a period of 2 days calling the crowd to disperse, the Thai military used armored tanks to break through the barricades this morning. There were 5 fatalities today, bringing the total count for the last 2 weeks to over 40, including soldiers, Red Shirts, and some journalists. The crowds were dispersed, and the Thai government provided buses to help people leave the protest sites.   The Bangkok Post reports that Red Shirt factions then proceeded to go to various parts of the city and set fire to over 27 buildings, including hotels, banks, government buildings, shopping malls, and a television station. One hospital had to be evacuated because of smoke. 

Here in Chiang Mai, where I live, protesters burned a military bus and blew up an ATM yesterday.  Today they are burning tires, and setting off firecrackers on the Nawarat Bridge, in front of the Governor's home.  The government has issued an order for a curfew from 8pm until 6am tomorrow. 

I am currently safe, and do not feel that I am in physical danger. No photos because I am staying away from the protest sites. But you can access photos online through the Bangkok Post Newspaper website ( Please pray that this very volatile situation will be resolved quickly.   And pray that churches will be places of refuge and peacebuilding so that the name of Jesus Christ will be known to bring reconciliation and justice throughout Thailand.