NHRC pushes for daily talks

A National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) panel is pushing for daily talks to be held between protesters and police during next week's Bangkok shutdown in a bid to avoid potential violence.

Niran Pitakwatchara, chairman of the NHRC subcommittee on civil and political rights, said he would hold preliminary talks between anti-government leaders and senior police officers tomorrow.

"The protesters have escalated the effort to drive out the government," Mr Niran said. "Only talks will prevent violence."

The aim of the talks is to get protest leaders and police to make plans to handle the situation each day, Mr Niran said.

The idea was proposed on Friday during an NHRC meeting with representatives of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protest group, police and the People's Network for Non-Violence to discuss preparations for Monday's planned shutdown.

"We learned from [Dec 26] clashes at the Thai-Japanese Stadium that if protesters come in great numbers, police can't stop them" Mr Niran said.

He also urged the police to negotiate with the pro-government red shirts, particularly core leaders of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship.

PDRC core leader Thaworn Senniam was to attend the meeting but instead sent a representative who declined to commit to the proposed talks.

Puangtip Boonsanong, a legal adviser to the Network of Students and People for the Reform of Thailand, said she would take the proposal to the group's leaders.

"We may join the talks," she said.

Deputy police chief Worapong Chewpreecha and assistant police commissioner for security affairs Amnat An-atngam also said they would cooperate.

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