The 53rd Bangkok Gems & Jewellery Fair will go ahead as scheduled next month despite the Thai government’s ‘state of emergency’ decree for the city in response to anti-government protests.
In an official statement, the Fair’s organising committee said: “The Fair will be held from February 25th through to March 1st 2014 and nothing will change that. We want to assure all the visitors who are looking forward to attending the fair that it will be absolutely safe since the protests are not anywhere near the venue where this fair will be staged.”
The organisers (the Gems, Jewellery and Precious Metal Confederation of Thailand and the Thai Gem and Jewellery Trader Association) stressed that, contrary to many media reports, the protests are generally “not violent”.
“Although the current protest is limited to a small area in Bangkok, international news media reports have painted a very grim picture that exaggerates the true nature of the protest.
“Bangkok remains active and busy like normal a few roads on Ratchadamnoen Road, where the protest site is located, are blocked.
Furthermore, the organisers said visitors can be assured that security measure at the Fair (held at the Impact Challenger halls which are located approximately 20km north of ‘downtown’) will be “impeccable with hundreds of guards in uniform and non-uniform comprised of police, military and security officers”.
“There will also be hundreds of CCTV cameras and other measures to ensure the safety of exhibitors and visitors to our fair.
“As with every BGJF, our security is second to none and we take all precautions to safeguard exhibitors and visitor safety and convenience.”
The organising committee has also prepared hotels along the Cahor Phrya River in “non-involved areas” with special and secure shuttle buses to and from the Fair.
According to the International Federation for Human Rights, the Thai government issued a 60-day state of emergency decree for Bangkok, the neighbouring province of Nonthaburi, and two districts in the capital’s surrounding provinces of Pathumthani and Samut Prakan on January 21 in response to a wave of anti-government street protest that has hit Bangkok since November.
The Federation says the anti-government demonstrations have been largely peaceful but clashes between police and protestors in December, as well as grenade attacks and shootings against anti-government demonstrators in recent weeks have resulted in 10 people being killed and over 550 being injured.
“The Government’s decree bans public gatherings of more than five people and authorises the suppression of news broadcasts or media reports inciting violence.
“The decree also authorises law enforcement agencies to detain persons suspected of being involved in acts of violence for 30 days. In addition, it grants immunity from criminal prosecution to government agencies and officials involved in the enforcement of the decree.”
For more information on the Fair visit www.bangkokgemsfair.com
* Pictured above is Somchai Phornchindarak, president of the Thai Gem and Jewellery Trader Association