MADISON (WKOW) -- Thailand's military mounted a coup and seized control of the government Thursday, leaving many Thai nationals in Wisconsin wondering what the future may hold for their home country.
Army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha announced that the military was taking control of the country after six months of political protests against the political party elected to power in 2011. After the coup, anti-government protesters who have struggled for six months to oust the government dispersed for the first time.
Thai PBS journalist Frank Thomya worked out of the WKOW newsroom as a visiting journalist in 2012 to cover the reelection campaign of President Barack Obama. In Thailand this week, Thomya is seeing the military take control of his country, but he can't report on it.
"The military ordered all the TV stations to stop broadcasting and all the radio stations. Even the international media like CNN or BBC are blocked right now," Thomya told 27 News in a phone call from Thailand Thursday morning.
8,500 miles away at UW-Madison, Thai Student Association (TSA) President Kanit Kuevibulvanich was trying to find out as much information as he could through social media.
"I just called my parents earlier this morning and they just said they're fine, nothing to be worried about," said Kuevibulvanich, who is among the 100 or so UW students that make up the TSA.
But Thai historian and author Thongchai Winichakul says that is not necessarily the case.
"Even though the coup yesterday seems non-violent, violence could follow in months, maybe years after this," said Winichakul, who is a Professor of History at the UW-Madison Center for Southeast Asian Studies.
This is Thailand's second military coup since 2006. Both have involved the ouster of the Pheu Thai party, led until '06 by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
But his party was reelected to power in the 2011 elections and his sister Yingluck Shinawatra became Prime Minister, leading to the problems of this past week.
Professor Winichakul says unlike eight years ago, the country's elite monarchy - which leads the military and is separate from the civilian government - may not be so quick to call new elections and restore democracy.
"Every time the elected government turns out to be the same group that is in conflict with the old establishment," said Winichakul.
"Whatever happens, its out of my hands, I cannot control it," said Kuevibulvanich.
That is the frustrating part for everyone impacted by the turmoil, whether they're here or in Thailand.
"I hope the international community will continue to pressure the Thai coup group to return to elected democracy," said Winichakul.
Secretary of State John Kerry already put out a statement urging that the democratic government be restored immediately.
MADISON (WKOW) -- Thailand's military mounted a coup and seized control of the government Thursday, leaving many Thai nationals in Wisconsin wondering what the future may hold in their home country.
A military statement broadcast on Thai national television Thursday confirmed the nation's caretaker government is no longer in power but said the Senate will remain in place. The news came two hours after army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha announced that the military was taking control of the country after six months of political protests and turmoil. After the coup, anti-government protesters who have struggled for six months to oust the government dispersed for the first time.
Kanit Kuevibulvanich, with the Thai Student Association (TSA) at UW-Madison, says the divide in the country between pro and anti-government supporters is a "very delicate" topic. He says because of that, it is rarely discussed between TSA members. But Kuevibulvanich is also confident the situation will be resolved peacefully.
This is the second coup in the past decade in Thailand, with the last coming in September of 2006. Greg Neumann will have more on this story on 27 News at 5.
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