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Emergency lifted in Thai provinces
State of emergency lifted in three provinces but strict laws remain in much of the country.
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2010 18:19 GMT
At least 90 died and nearly 1,900 injured during Red Shirt rallies that paralysed most of Bangkok [Reuters]

Thailand has lifted a state of emergency in three provinces, but the decree will be kept in 16 other provinces following deadly clashes between anti-government protesters and Thai security forces earlier this year, officials have said.  

The government decided on Tuesday to revoke the state of emergency in Lampang, Roi Et and Sakon Nakhon provinces but maintained strict bans on public gatherings in one-fifth of the country.

The emergency laws ban gatherings of more than five people and give security forces the right to detain suspects for 30 days without charge.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Thai prime minister, said the emergency decree cannot be lifted fully as anti-government groups still remained a threat.

"Currently there are still all kinds of movements such as secret meetings that have made us more cautious," he said.

Earlier this month Thailand extended the ban on public gathering across one quarter of the country, prompting concern among rights groups and key allies including the United States.

The decree was applied after two months of mass Red Shirt rallies, which pushed for fresh elections, spilled into violent clashes with Thai security forces that left at least 90 people dead and nearly 1,900 others injured.

The demonstrations ended in May following a heavy military crackdown on the protesters, who were broadly supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, the expelled former Thai premier.

'Insufficient step'

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Puea Thai, the country's main opposition party, dismissed the move to end emergency rule in three provinces as insufficient, saying the authorities were simply trying to gain favour from voters.

"The government must lift emergency rule in all 19 provinces, especially Bangkok, where there will be an election this weekend and our campaign is restricted under this law," Pormpong Nopparit, a spokesman for Puea Thai, said.

The authorities have used the emergency state to arrest hundreds of suspected violators, including most of the top leaders of the Red Shirt movement.

They have also shut down anti-government TV channels, radio stations and websites.

US-based group Human Rights Watch said earlier this month the government was "systematically using" the emergency decree to hold suspects without charge for up to 30 days in unofficial places of detention.

Many detainees have been held at military camps but their exact numbers and whereabouts are unknown to their families, it said.

Source:
Agencies
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