Integrity Legal

20th May 2010

The following was posted on the official website of the US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand:

U.S. Depatment of State
Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC May 19, 2010

Statement: Situation in Thailand

I would like to say that the United States deeply deplores the violence and loss of life that has resulted from clashes between security forces and protests from the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD).  We call on both sides to show restraint and to work to resolve differences through Thailand’s democratic institutions.

We are encouraged by the actions of the Red Shirt leaders who have surrendered to law enforcement agencies and support their call to supporters to return home peacefully.  However, we are deeply concerned that Red Shirt supporters have engaged in arson targeting the electricity infrastructure and media outlets and have attacked individual journalists.

We condemn such behavior and call on UDD leaders and affiliated opposition politicians to urge their supporters to stop such acts.  We remain very concerned about the situation in Thailand and we will continue to monitor those events closely.

At the time of this writing, the US Embassy in Bangkok is closed to those seeking routine services due to the unrest in the areas near the Embassy compound. In Bangkok, the situation seems to have stabilized. However, the city remains tense as most Bangkok residents seem to be hoping for an end to the unpleasantness and a return to relative normality.

On a related note, the Thai Tourism Industry is preparing for a major downturn moving forward. To quote the website ThaiVisa.com:

Thailand’s violent political turmoil has had a “disastrous” effect on the vital tourism sector, the country’s finance minister said Friday, stressing that the overall economy remained sound. “Tourism in value terms accounts for six percent of our GDP,” Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij told a Tokyo conference, adding that the sector also accounts for “as much as 15 to 20 percent of the total employment.” “And clearly, with the events that took place over the past several weeks, and the pictures of these events flashing across TV screens across the world, it is going to have a very disastrous impact on tourism.” Thai security forces on Wednesday crushed a six-week protest by anti-government protesters in street battles that left 15 people dead and saw arsonists torch some 36 key buildings across the capital Bangkok. The stock exchange and the nation’s biggest shopping mall were among locations torched in the chaotic aftermath of the campaign to end the “Red Shirt” protesters’ occupation of Bangkok’s top retail district. Korn said that “we anticipate that the impact on the GDP of the protest so far is probably between 0.3 and 0.5 percent of GDP.” However, he stressed that the wider economic picture was sound in the kingdom, telling the conference that “we expect the formal Q1 (first quarter) figure to be in two digits” this year.

As we have previously discussed on this blog, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs has waived fees for Thai Tourist Visas. However, the fees associated with applications for the Thai business visa and the Thai O visa remain the same.

For further information about attorney assistance with Consular Processing of US visa applications please see: US Embassy. For further information about closure of the US Embassy in Thailand please see: US Embassy Bangkok. Finally, to learn more about Thai Immigration please see: Thai Visa.


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