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Group calls for an end to political violence

Hundreds to go to 'peace rally' in Bangkok as rural support grows

Amid the current political turmoil, hundreds of people called yesterday for protesters and pro-government supporters to stop using violence against each other, fearing further deaths and injuries.

Both anti-government groups and pro-government supporters plan to hold political rallies - one to "Shut Down Bangkok" and another to "Open Bangkok" - on January 13. One wants to force Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down and the other supports her caretaker government.

Meanwhile, a group called "YaBasta Thailand" wants to stop demonstrations that lead to violence. Yesterday it organised a peaceful event, inviting people who don't want to see violence caused by the political turmoil to light candles as a symbol of peace and voice their concerns to both sides of the political divide.

The group has invited people to join the event via Facebook page "YaBastaThailand". Already yesterday More than 1,000 people had said on the page that they would join the event held at the activity park in front of Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC).

"We just want to open more space for people who don't want to see any political demonstrations that lead to violence," said Kittichai Ngarmchaipisit, a founder of YaBasta Thailand.

"I'm not saying that they should stop the demonstrations but I mean they should hold non-violent demonstrations. And many people also want to see this kind of demonstration as well."

Kittichai and friends decided to form a group after he learned that at least two people had died from the political conflict last month, including an anti-government protester and a police officer.

"At that moment, the only thing I can think about is I just want to do something to stop the use of violence against each other. I just want to see peaceful demonstrations," he said.

Two kinds of violence had been used during the political turmoil, he said. The first was "structural" violence such as seeking to delay the election set for February 2, as well as physical violence that caused injuries and death of citizens.

YaBasta held a peaceful event on December 27 and it drew responses from several groups such as employees and students. Some took pictures with candles lit and sent them to the YaBasta Facebook page. Some held events upcountry, such as in Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen.

"We plan to hold this kind of event every Friday until there is no violence from political turmoil," Kittichai said.

Others have held peaceful events and called for violence against citizens to stop. The group Ants' Power will also hold an event - "People Going to Vote" - at 2pm tomorrow near the Arts Centre. They will wear white T-shirts and carry white balloons as a symbol to call for people to be allowed to vote.

Meanwhile, another group known as Thais Against Violence also opened a Facebook page and persuaded people to put a banner reading "Stop violence, stop hurting Thailand" as their Facebook photo profile. More than 6,000 Facebook users have liked this page so far.

Meanwhile, taxi groups led by Sanong Aonanong gathered at the National Police headquarters to give moral support to National Police chief General Adul Saengsingkaew.

The group also sent a letter to Adul to complain that they were facing difficulties because the main anti-government PDRC had blocked roads.


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