Protestors in Thailand have blocked major roads in Bangkok in an effort to shut down the government before February elections.
Protests against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her administration have been ongoing since Shinawatra tried to pass a bill that would give a former prime minister amnesty and allow him to return to the country from which he has been exiled since a 2006 military coup. By the way, that prime minister is Thaksin Shinawatra, and he is Shinawatra's brother.
Last month, protests escalated, then eased, then escalated again. At least eight people have been killed, and several more injured. Now, with Shinawatra expected to win the February 2 election (especially because her opposition is boycotting it), protestors are putting up barricades and camping in the streets.
The protestors want Shinawatra to step down and be replaced by a corruption-fighting "people's council" that, unlike Shinawatra, would not be democratically elected.
The scene in Bangkok, per the AP:
Major streets in the capital were empty after demonstrators set up stands in the middle of intersections and were forcing drivers to turn their cars around. At one intersection, protesters had hung huge Thai flags from an overhead walkway.
Protesters have vowed to surround Cabinet ministries to prevent them from functioning, and vowed to cut water and electricity to the private residences of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Cabinet.
The Thai government is deploying 8,000 soldiers and between 10,000 (according to the BBC) and 12,000 police officers (the AP) to try to prevent the shutdown. Schools have closed, as have many businesses, though the Wall Street Journal noted that the country's stock exchange remained open.
Though some protests have attracted hundreds of thousands of people, there are signs that the tide is starting to turn against them. Chitpas Bhirombhakdi, whose family owns Singha beer, has been a heavily involved in the protests and recently said rural Thais lacked a "true understanding of democracy." In response, many of those Thais have boycotted her family's beers.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.