The government of Thailand on Wednesday imposed a curfew on Bangkok and other areas of the country in response to violence that erupted when the leader of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship [party website, in Thai], also known as the red shirts [BBC backgrounder], announced an end to the two-month long conflict in Bangkok [JURIST news archive] and surrendered to police. Members of the red shirts, known for supporting ousted [JURIST report] prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], refused to accept the end of the demonstrations and began rioting [Al Jazeera report] and setting fire to parts of Bangkok. Citizens of the areas affected by the curfew have been ordered to stay inside to ensure their own safety. The Thai military is expected to work through the night to try and reestablish order in the city.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] Navi Pillay [official profile] on Monday urged both the Thai government and anti-government protesters to seek a peaceful resolution [press release; JURIST report] to the current conflict. Last week, a Thai court sentenced 27 red shirt protesters [JURIST report] to six months in prison. Last month, Thailand's pro-government People's Alliance for Democracy Network [party website, in Thai; BBC backgrounder], known as yellow shirts, called for a declaration of martial law [JURIST report] to quell the anti-government movement spearheaded by the red shirts. Earlier in April, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva announced that he was prepared to negotiate [JURIST report] with red shirt protesters once they cease their illegal conduct. Because of the mounting violence, Abhisit has imposed a state of emergency [JURIST report] in Bangkok and neighboring provinces.