RTP contravened UN ruling using rubber bullets on protestors

A non-governmental organisation slammed the illegal use of rubber bullets by the Royal Thai Police (RTP) after skirmishes outside of the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre left a man blind in one eye and dozens of others injured.

International Lawyers Assisting Workers Network (iLaw Network) made known that the RTP contravened a United Nations ruling by using rubber bullets to disperse protestors as leaders from around the world descended on Bangkok to take part in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.

About 35 protestors were hurt in clashes between police and activists on their way to Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre on Friday, reported Prachatai English.

Protesters faced two police blockades as they marched toward the APEC meeting venue. Police in full riot gear dispersed activists using shields, batons, and rubber bullets. A number of protestors said they were physically assaulted by the police who kicked and punched them and fired rubber bullets at close range.

Payu Boonshopon, an activist from the Dao Din group, was shot in the right eye with a rubber bullet on Dinso Road at around 12.40pm. He was later taken to the Police Hospital for treatment.

RTP contravened UN ruling using rubber bullets on protestors | News by Thaiger

Pictures courtesy of Prachatai English. Payu Boonsophon sits in an ambulance receiving first aid after he was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet.

The Dao Din group posted on Facebook at around 8.30pm on Friday that Payu was having surgery and doctors said he will probably lose sight in his right eye as his eyeball was ruptured by the bullet and both the lens and retina had been damaged. His eyelid is also damaged, and his nasal bone was shattered, requiring reconstructive surgery.

Payu was reportedly conscious and stable on Saturday morning.

The Dao Din group said today that his doctor confirmed that Payu will never see again in his right eye. He will also need more surgery to repair his tear duct.

A 17 year old activist named Nice, from Ratsadon Khong-Chi-Mun, a group based in Khon Kaen, was another injured. She said that she was kicked in the head by officers.

Nice reported that she heard an officer shout to others not to arrest her because she is a woman and that her shirt was torn and could see her chest. They then used their feet to kick her out of their circle.

Another protester Pe, said crowd control officers threw rocks at the protesters.

A 22 year old activist from Khon Kaen University, Kim, told iLaw that he was near a police truck being pushed out of the way by protesters when crowd control police carrying shields ran at him and he was kicked and beaten with a shield and baton while one officer pointed a gun at his head.

iLaw reported that police use of rubber bullets contravened international protocols, as several protesters reported being shot in the head.

The United Nations Human Rights Guidance on Less-Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement states that the kinetic impact projectiles, such as rubber or plastic bullets, should be aimed at the lower abdomen or the legs and only against violent individuals to “address an imminent threat of injury to either a law enforcement official or a member of the public.”

The guidelines note that aiming at the head or face can lead to severe injuries, including brain injury and eye damage, or death, while targeting the torso may damage vital organs and penetrating injuries especially when fired at close range.

It also states that rubber bullets should not be fired in automatic mode, and that using several rounds at the same time does not comply “with the principles of necessity and proportionality.” Metal bullets should also not be used.

iLaw also noted that, under the Public Assembly Act, law enforcement officers are required to obtain a court order for the protest to cease in cases where they ask protesters to disperse voluntarily and refuse to do so. The Public Assembly Act also says that while waiting for a court order, law enforcement may follow any necessary protocol for public protests, but must avoid using force, and use necessary crowd control tools only when the use of force is unavoidable.

RTP contravened UN ruling using rubber bullets on protestors | News by Thaiger

Nice’s injuries sustained while being assaulted by crowd control police. RTP contravened UN ruling using rubber bullets on protestors | News by Thaiger

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Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.