These are restless, anxious days in much of southeast Asia. Three explosions (a fourth bomb was found and defused) killed at least 24 people in the center of Rangoon, and injured more than 60 others. The streets were crowded for the celebration of the Buddhist new year, Songkran. The Times of London comments:
Given the political tensions in Burma, where several insurgent wars are being fought by breakaway ethnic armies along the border and where campaigners fight a largely peaceful struggle for democracy, political violence against civilians is surprisingly rare.
In Bangkok (where Songkran is also celebrated) 30,000 of the so-called red-shirt protesters have settled in around the city center and main shopping areas in an effort to shut down the city. They are asking for new elections, which the government has so far refused. The government claims it is ready to talk but that the red shirts will not come to the table.
The government attempted to clear out the protesters over the weekend. They failed, and killed 23 protesters in the process. (Human Rights Watch has demanded an explanation from the government.) Unfortunately, turmoil in government is nothing new for Thailand. They have had more than a dozen constitutions since their first in 1932.
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