Asia-Pacific

Thailand lifts emergency laws against red-shirt rallies

Red shirts wave pictures of people killed when troops quashed protests six months ago, outside Bangkok's Remand prison 19 Nov 2010
Red-shirt supporters now gather on the 10th and 19th of every month to mark earlier clashes

A state of emergency that has been in force in the Thai capital Bangkok for more than eight months is being lifted.

The special provisions were introduced during anti-government protests in Bangkok earlier this year.

They gave sweeping powers to the security forces, including the power to detain suspects for up to 30 days without charge.

More than 90 people were killed in April and May during clashes between protesters and Thai security forces.

At one stage emergency law was imposed over more than a quarter of the country but it has gradually been lifted as the security situation has improved.

Comfort zone

The government has for weeks been suggesting that the emergency law could and should be lifted in Bangkok and surrounding provinces as soon as possible.

Now the powerful Thai military appears to have agreed that the time is right.

But the Thai defence minister has suggested that things will not revert to an entirely normal situation.

The emergency decree is likely to be replaced by the Internal Security Act which still allows the security forces broad licence to detain suspects without charge, albeit for seven rather than 30 days.

The move comes as anti-government protestors appear to gaining in confidence once more.

There are now regular demonstrations in Bangkok, attracting several thousand people.

But, although they disrupt traffic, the protests have been peaceful, which is presumably why the government now feels comfortable in lifting emergency law.