Ministry Leader Sees Answer to Thailand's Woes in Greater Equality

Deadly anti-government protests in Thailand are evidence that economic growth cannot go without a fair distribution of wealth, says the leader of a global Christian movement to end poverty.

Joel Edwards, international director of Micah Challenge, said in his latest blog posting that the violence and killings in Thailand were "ironic" because the country was one of the few successfully eradicating extreme poverty in line with the Millennium Development Goals.

While nearly 21 percent of the population were living below the poverty line in 2000, the year the MDGs were agreed, that figure has shrunk to 8.5 percent of the population.

"Thailand's problem is not about deadlines: it's about redistribution. The bottom 60 percent of the population share just 25 percent of its wealth," he said. "We are not interested in nations playing numbers games. Thailand is still starving for good governance and the recognition of human rights.

"True justice demands economic growth and equality. Thailand is showing us that you can't have one without the other."

A curfew is in place across Bangkok and 23 other provinces as the army continues its push to put down protesters and end the deadliest political violence to hit the country in nearly two decades.

At least 13 people died and 88 were wounded in one military operation against protesters in the capital, where dozens of buildings have been set on fire, including the Thai stock exchange and several banks.

Edwards was recently a keynote speaker at the Toybox conference looking at the plight of street children and what the church is doing to help them.

He said in his address that there was a biblical foundation for campaigning against global poverty and injustice.

"The thing that keeps me going when the dream of the end of poverty seems a long way off is the rightness of the call – the fact that it is God's heart for the poor that we should be following," he said.

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