Serbia gives citizenship to fugitive ex-Thai PM Yingluck

Ousted former Thai prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra greets supporters as she leaves the Supreme Court in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 08 August 2019

Serbia gives citizenship to fugitive ex-Thai PM Yingluck

  • Yingluck furtively slipped out of the kingdom while it was still under junta rule in August 2017, a few weeks before she was handed a five year sentence
  • Yingluck’s billionaire brother and former PM Thaksin Shinawatra is also living in exile to avoid a graft conviction after he was toppled in an earlier 2006 coup

BELGRADE: Serbian media reported Thursday that the country has granted citizenship to Thailand’s fugitive former premier Yingluck Shinawatra, who was ousted ahead of the 2014 coup and later fled to avoid a jail term.
Yingluck furtively slipped out of the kingdom while it was still under junta rule in August 2017, a few weeks before she was handed a five year sentence for negligence over a costly rice subsidy scheme.
She and her supporters say the trial was a witch-hunt led by a junta keen on rooting out her family’s political influence.
On Thursday local Serbian magazine Nedeljnik published an image of a government document dated June 27 that said Yingluck had “obtained Serbian citizenship.”
It appeared to be signed by Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic.
A Serbian government spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Yingluck’s spokersperson could also not immediately be reached.
Yingluck’s billionaire brother and former PM Thaksin Shinawatra is also living in exile to avoid a graft conviction after he was toppled in an earlier 2006 coup.
The siblings are beloved by Thailand’s rural poor and posed the top electoral challenge to the country’s traditional royalist elite.
Several years ago, Thaksin was granted Montenegrin citizenship and now splits his time chiefly between London and Dubai.
Since fleeing Thailand Yingluck has been seen around the globe, from London to Dubai, Hong Kong and Japan, among other places.
With a Serbian passport, she would be able to travel without a visa to more than 100 countries.


Hong Kong police fire tear gas to break up anti-government protest

Updated 38 min 47 sec ago

Hong Kong police fire tear gas to break up anti-government protest

  • Hong Kong police intervened promptly when the rally turned into an impromptu march
  • The protests had lost some of their intensity in recent weeks

HONG KONG: Police fired tear gas on Sunday to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters who gathered in a central Hong Kong park, but later spilled onto the streets in violation of police orders.
Out in numbers before the demonstration began, police intervened promptly when the rally turned into an impromptu march. Several units of police in riot gear were seen chasing protesters and several arrests were made.
A water cannon truck drove on central streets, flanked by an armored jeep, but was not used.
Organizers initially applied for a permit for a march, but police only agreed to a static rally in the park, saying previous marches have turned violent.
Once protesters spilled onto the streets, some of them, wearing all-black clothing, barricaded the roads with umbrellas and street furniture, dug up bricks from the pavement and smashed traffic lights.
The “Universal Siege Against Communism” demonstration was the latest in a relentless series of protests against the government since June, when Hong Kongers took to the streets to voice their anger over a now-withdrawn extradition bill.
The protests, which have since broadened to include demands for universal suffrage and an independent investigation into police handling of the demonstrations, had lost some of their intensity in recent weeks.
In an apparent new tactic, police have been showing up ahead of time in riot gear, with officers conducting “stop and search” operations near expected demonstrations.
“Everyone understands that there’s a risk of stop-and-search or mass arrests. I appreciate Hong Kong people still come out courageously, despite the risk,” said organizer Ventus Lau.
On Jan 1, a march of tens of thousands of people ended with police firing tear gas to disperse crowds.
The gathering in the park was initially relaxed, with many families with children listening to speeches by activists.
In one corner, a group of volunteers set up a stand where people could leave messages on red cards for the lunar new year to be sent to those who have been arrested. One read: “Hong Kongers won’t give up. The future belongs to the youth”.
Authorities in Hong Kong have arrested more than 7,000 people, many on charges of rioting that can carry jail terms of up to 10 years. It is unclear how many are still in custody.
Anger has grown over the months due to perceptions that Beijing was tightening its grip over the city, which was handed over to China by Britain in 1997 in a deal that ensured it enjoyed liberties unavailable in the mainland.
Beijing denies meddling and blames the West for fomenting unrest.