ASIA/THAILAND - Martial law declared: for the Church it is urgent "to open a channel between the parties"

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Bangkok ( Agenzia Fides ) - "We were in a situation of institutional stalemate for a long time. Because of uncertainty and insecurity, the population welcomed the intervention of the army which is not a coup but serves to prevent violence and chaos that would further damage the country: this is the aim of the martial law. In a polarized situation, it is urgent to open a channel between the parties to resolve the institutional crisis". With these words, Mgr. Andrew Vissanu Thanya-Anan, Executive Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Thailand, talks to Fides Agency about the situation in the country after the army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan, declared martial law to the whole nation. The Commander, stressing the need to ensure peace and order, has called on the population to "continue life as usual". The law gives the military the power to use weapons to suppress riots, confiscate any building, censor information, prohibit public gatherings, arrest suspects and activate the military court.
Msg. Andrew Vissanu Thanya-Anan explains to Fides: "The Catholic Church is closely following developments of the situation. Let us pray and join efforts with leaders of other religions, such as Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims.
When the Thai population sees that religious leaders are united, hand in hand for peace, this has a strong influence on the hearts and minds, and therefore on the future of the country".
The military measure comes after the escalation of social and political tension that exists in the country, where the elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been dismissed by a judgment of the Supreme Court (due to abuse of office) and replaced by a provisional government. In the Thai society, confrontation between anti-government factions (the "yellow shirts") expression of the urban bourgeoisie, and loyal to the government Shinawatra (the "red shirts"), formed by farmers and the rural population has once again been instigated. In recent days, the clashes between demonstrators caused 28 deaths and hundreds of people were injured. Between the factions, there are also armed militant groups, that prompted the intervention of the army. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 20/05/2014)