Travel Alert – Thailand – Severity High

The U.S. Department of State has issued this latest warning for U.S. Citizens traveling in to the country of Thailand.  This information is available to GeoBlue plan members from the GeoBlue website daily…

Travel Warning Issued for Thailand

Category: Instability

Severity: 4 (High)

Source: Drum Cussac

05/22/2014 (Thailand) – Thailand’s army chief announced on Thursday, 22 May, that the military is taking control of the government. General Prayut Chan-O-Cha said in a televised statement that the military would restore order and implement political reforms. A nationwide curfew from 2200hrs to 0500hrs (1500 to 2200 UTC) has been imposed. The Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS or Skytrain) will stop operating at 2100hrs (1400 UTC). Television and radio broadcasters have been ordered to suspend normal programmes and only transmit army material. Soldiers are reportedly escorting protesters away from demonstration sites in Bangkok.

Thailand has experienced six months of unrest since Yellow Shirt protesters launched a campaign late last year after then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved the lower house of parliament. She was forced from power this month by a court ruling for alleged abuse of office. Red Shirt supporters of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was removed in a coup in 2006, and his sister Yingluck, have been on the streets in support of the government. Meanwhile, the Yellow Shirts, seen as pro-establishment, have been demanding political reforms ahead of elections planned for later in 2014.

On 20 May, the military declared martial law and brought rival political leaders together for talks to break the impasse, which has led to the deaths of 28 protesters and destabilised the economy. The various stakeholders were reportedly unable to reach a compromise on a wide range of issues, including future conduct of elections, implementation of reforms, the search for a neutral prime minister, the formation of a provisional government by the Senate, and the possibility of the pro- and anti-government protests to be called off immediately. With Thursday’s statement, it appears that the military felt it had no choice but to stage a coup to prevent further unrest in the county.

We assess that the coup will likely fuel tensions between the Red Shirts and the Yellow Shirts in the immediate-term. The most tangible aspect of this issue will likely be felt through street demonstrations by the Red Shirts that could affect travel and business continuity. However, it is clear the military is making strong efforts to ensure that the potential for violence is low, and the heavy presence of military personnel in the streets will likely act as a deterrence for significant unrest. Clients in Thailand, notably in Bangkok, should stay abreast of the latest announcements from the Thai military with regards to martial law. They should also keep updated on other related developments that could potentially affect personal safety, travel plans and business continuity.

Those in Bangkok are advised to minimise movement in the coming 12-24 hour period following the announcement of a coup until the reaction of protest groups, particularly the Red Shirts, is made clear. Large public gatherings, when applicable, should be avoided to minimise the risk of exposure to possible outbreaks of violence and localised unrest. Alternate routes and flexible travel itineraries should be prepared in the event of traffic disruptions or road blockades. Travellers should also ensure that they have an immediate access to their identification documents at all times and liaise with their respective foreign missions when-in country. Adhere to all directives of authorities at all times. Strictly observe the curfew hours and remain aware of any changes to the timings, which may occur with little notice.

Copyright © 2014 Drum Cussac

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