Thailand distances itself from protests
Thai citizens in China are being warned to stay away from the protest rallies sparked by a territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo, Foreign Affairs Minister Surapong Towichakchaiyakul said on Wednesday.
Mr Surapong said after a meeting with representatives from China's foreign affairs ministry that an advisory has been issued by the Thai embassy and consulate in Beijing.
He said the Chinese representatives expressed their concern over the ongoing dispute between China and Japan, which has led to protests in several cities in China.
On Tuesday, about 10,000 people in Guangzhou rallied and blocked several key places including the Thai consulate in the city and the protesters also wrote graffiti on a Thai consulate car.
Mr Surapong said the Thai embassy and consulate in China have issued a warning for Thai citizens to avoid going to places where the rallies are being held.
There have been no reports to date that any Thais were affected or injured by the demonstrators, he said.
With Muslim protesters in Bangkok yesterday and Chiang Mai today rallying against the anti-islamic video "Innocence of Muslims" and joining the string of demonstrations and violence aimed at US embassies in many countries, the foreign minister stressed that Thailand remains neutral on this issue and hoped it would be settled peacefully.
He said Thailand did not want to see people hurting each other and resorting to violence. The problem emerged after religion was brought into a video, causing a misunderstanding.
"No religion should be disrespected. Thailand respects all religions equally. We call on all sides to be tolerant," Mr Surapong said.
He said the security sector was responsible for the safety of US diplomats in Thailand.
"This issue should not be a problem in Thailand because there's no segregation here," Mr Surapong said.
About 30 Muslims gathered outside the United States consulate-general's office in Chiang Mai on Wednesday to protest against the controversial, low budget US-made video which was posted on YouTube.
Chiang Mai Islamic Committee adviser Mustafa Hassan led the group and read out a statement denouncing the two-hour movie that has sparked violence and protests in about 20 countries.
He then handed the statement on behalf of the Chiang Mai Islamic Committee and other Islamic committees of the northern provinces to a representative of the US consul.
The rally was peaceful. About 20 police were deployed to ensure peace and order at the venue.
On Tuesday, about 300 Muslim people rallied in front of the US embassy in Bangkok in a protest against the film. There was no violence.
19 September 2012
About 30 Muslims gathered outside the US consulate-general's office in Chiang Mai to protest against the anti-Islamic film. (Photo by Cheewin Sattha)