Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Army Topples Government in Thailand

As someone with a church with strong connections to missionaries in Thailand (unnamed for security purposes), it was with concern that I learned about the coup that toppled the government there. Here's a report from a British religion news source:

Thailand calm but uncertain after coup, reports church worker -20/09/06

The situation on the ground in Thailand appears to be calm but uncertain during the first hours of the coup reported yesterday (19 September 2006) – according to a church worker from International Ministries commenting back to the American Baptist Churches USA.

One soldier on a tank told a BBC reporter: "We don't know why we're here, we've been told to say nothing. We're just following orders." Others have described the situation as tense, but controlled.

Stanley Murray and the IM crisis management team say that they will be in close communication with partner church leaders as the situation develops. IM has a long relationship with the people of Thailand. IM's work in the country, then known as Siam, began in 1833, when pioneer workers John and Sarah Taylor Jones first arrived in Bangkok.

The coup on 19 September began when General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, the head of the Thai army, declared martial law, suspended the constitution and surrounded government buildings in the capital, Bangkok, with tanks.

The army has declared its loyalty to Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, at the same time that it seeks to depose the nation's Prime Minister, Taksin Shinawatra. Shinawatra was in New York at the United Nations General Assembly session at the time of the coup.

Reuters has reported that the Thai Armed Forces chief announced the creation of a political ‘Reform Commission’, while army forces and police control Bangkok. The military later declared martial law, and the military then revoked the Thai Constitution and suspended Parliament.

Meanwhile, armed forces have taken up strategic positions around the town, occupying key intersections. Additionally, unauthorized military movements were swiftly banned, and all soldiers were ordered to report to their duty stations.

Charles Jones, IM's acting executive director, called for prayer on behalf of all the people of Thailand.

Some 94% of Thailand's population is Theravada Buddhist. As of 2003 there were 278,000 Catholics (0.4% of the total population) and 262,000 Protestants of various traditions.

1 comment:

baptistlikeme said...

Glenn,

I'm glad you're posting on this, but you may want to explicitly note that much of the wording in your post that doesn't come from the BBC comes directly from the ABCUSA press release of 9/19.

I share your concern and echo the calls for prayer for Thailand's people of all creeds and for the country's leaders.