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33 people injured and 5 arrested in last night’s protests near the Grand Palace in Bangkok

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33 people injured and 5 arrested in last night’s protests near the Grand Palace in Bangkok | Thaiger
A wall of Riot Police and 2 water cannons advance on protesters - Free Youth

33 people, including protesters and attending police, ended up casualties of last evening’s anti-government protests according to Erawan Medical Centre. The protest, reacting to the seizure of books discussing the Thai Monarchy and including pro-democracy speeches from last year, started off in Sanam Luang during the afternoon.

But it quickly escalated after police erected a wall of shipping containers preventing protesters access to the road to the Grand Palace. During the ensuing scuffles, police threatened protesters with the high-power water cannon truck, used tear gas and rubber bullets, and chased down individual protesters, leading to at least 5 arrests.

You can watch Free Youth’s video of the aftermath of the protest HERE.

The events, captured and broadcast in real time on social media, portrayed an undisciplined display of farrago, from both sides. Fires were lit along the road by protesters and police were seen stomping on protesters on the ground. Other protesters tried to flee on their motorbikes but abandoned them and fled on foot. In some cases the police targeted particular protesters and chased them down streets, resulting in at least 20 protesters being arrested, according to police.

Charges have already been laid, in some cases, relating to breaking rules about gathering of crowds during the emergency decree and the lese majeste law, when it’s considered a crime for insulting or defaming the Thai royal family. Portraits of HM The King were defaced as part of the evening’s protests. Estimates of the protest numbers vary, but averaged around 1,000 people.

Both the police and the protesters maintain the violence started from the other side.

The protest movement, made up of several student and university protest sub sets, has been the first to raise the uncomfortable (for Thais) topic of reforming the monarchy and the constitution that enshrines the monarch as the Head of State. Young Thais, now able to watch international commentary, clips and videos openly critical of the Thai monarch, started the movement in July 2020 when a 10 point manifesto was first read out at a protest at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument. Since then, some 7 protest leaders are now languishing in the Bangkok Remand Centre and Thon Buri prison on charges relating to the organisation of the protests and the criticism of the Thai monarchy.

The well-organised protests of the second half of 2020, often second guessing police and able to switch locations in real time, have now become less well-attended and the leadership group – police would describe them as ring leaders – have now been, at least temporarily, silenced by their detention awaiting trial.

One of the groups spearheading yesterday’s protests were the Redem group.

Earlier yesterday, Samesky Publishing was raided where the Redem group had stored books about the Thai monarchy. Police seized the books, “Monarchy and Thai Society”, critical of the current monarch and calling for constitutional limitation of the powers of the Thai royal family.

Police say they seized around 200 copies of the controversial books. But there were still plenty of the books available at the rally later in the day in Sanam Luang park, displayed for the media and free for people to take. Redem claimed they had 10,000 copies for people to read. The book included speeches from earlier pro-democracy rallies in 2020 and photographs from the protests. Redem also posted a PDF version of the book for anyone to download. Police claimed that it could be a crime to have a copy of the book in your possession.

The rally in Sanam Luang had been vocal, but peaceful, but when some protesters started to remove the stack of shipping containers between them and the Grand Palace, armed riot-control officers and the water cannon were waiting. But things turned ugly, quickly, as police, initially firing the water cannon into the air as a warning, advanced, in lines spanning the entire road, on the protesters.

SOURCES: Free Youth | Bangkok Post

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Sunday, March 21, 2021 at 5:37 pm

    Make up your mind. 8 protesters arrested in the headlines.
    20 protesters arrested in the article.
    Anyway too little and too weak. there has to be stiffer resistance to the present Thailand Authorities, or they will never go.

  2. Avatar

    Slugger

    Sunday, March 21, 2021 at 6:40 pm

    Good, lock them away from decent, law abiding citizens.

    ‘Estimates of the protest numbers vary, but averaged around 1,000 people.’ So 200 max then.

  3. Avatar

    Samuel Yeo

    Sunday, March 21, 2021 at 8:44 pm

    These protestors are creating more chaos than their peaceful demonstrations they had in mind.They simply want to force their demands,since Future Forward Party was dissolved.They will never achieve their idealistic goals with their dumb “3 fingers salute form of democracy”.Once all their leaders are imprisoned,the rest of the protestors,mainly students will disappear from the scene.

  4. Avatar

    Wayno

    Sunday, March 21, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    Well done, keep up the pressure on the third world junta

  5. Avatar

    Issan John

    Monday, March 22, 2021 at 12:44 am

    These particular protesters are nothing to do with either the Future Forward Party nor those arrested from Rasadon, Sam Y, although you may not realise that from some of the reporting.

    Last year’s early protests had widespread popular support – these don’t.

    They’re a few hundred radicals with no support base who are simply destroying what little chance there was of the democratic change that last year’s protests could have sparked – unwittingly, they’re strengthening the government’s hand, not weakening it.

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Investigations of Covid-19 infected elite rule-breakers demanded

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Investigations of Covid-19 infected elite rule-breakers demanded | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: VIP clubs and their wealthy customers may have violated rules and led to Covid-19 outbreaks

Investigations are being demanded by a corruption watchdog into Thai politicians infected with Covid-19 after allegedly attending venues in the Thong Lor entertainment venues in Bangkok that have now emerged as the ground zero for the Coronavirus third wave in the Kingdom.

The Anti-Corruption Organisation of Thailand are being asked to investigate the latest Covid-19 outbreak, noting in a Facebook post that the second wave was also linked to illegal activities, spreading through illegal migrants and other visiting gambling dens. This third wave is also angering those who see the wealthy elite and powerful politicians frequenting high-end bars and not following Covid-19 safety protocols.

Mana Nimitmongkol, secretary-general of ACT argues that the ministers visiting these clubs did not behave “ethically”, and it’s part of a larger problem. He is pushing for legal action against not only club owners, but against police, public health officials, and even the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration for failing to enforce laws to protect against Covid-19.

Investigations into whether the code of ethics had been violated were requested to be carried out by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Ombudsman and the committee on ethical standards.

As entertainment venues have been ordered closed for at least 2 weeks, Mana proposes that along with restrictions, a hotline to report rule-breakers should be set up, and all people should be held to the same standard without exception.

The president of the Rural Doctors Society agreed, saying that especially important is the need for Covid-19 infected public officials to disclose their personal timelines to reassure the public and assist in contract tracing. It is feared that little or no action will be taken to investigate and punish powerful rulebreakers.

One controversial infection was that of Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, rumoured to be infected from Thong Lor nightclubs, but later shown to be in another province at the time. The entertainment venue outbreak was not completely innocent though, as details emerged that the minister’s infection was in fact passed to him via an aide who had frequented clubs in Thong Lor.

Chuvit Kamolvisit, a former massage parlour owner turned activist, has been outspoken on the issue, calling for investigations into high-society VIP clubs like Krystal Club and Emerald Club, who allegedly flaunted restrictions and ended up with dozens of Covid-19 infected staff members.

The Metropolitan Police Bureau chief had said that legal action was pending against these clubs for the virus spreading.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Protests

Attendance on the wane for Thai democracy protests

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Attendance on the wane for Thai democracy protests | Thaiger
PHOTO: Demonstration attendance has been falling in the face of Covid-19, coups and crackdowns.

While protesters against the Thai government are continuing as they have for endless months, attendance is lessening in the face of crackdowns, coups and Covid-19. The throngs of 10,000 plus protesters, mostly energetic youth, that waved The Hunger Games 3 finger salute and demanded change in Thailand last summer have thinned to a few thousand or less these days.

The government isn’t in the clear yet though, as the protester’s calls to replace the current government, lessen the power of the Thai monarchy, and draw up a new constitution are still popular ideas. But a number of factors are causing protester size and vigour to wane.

The second wave of Covid in December quickly curbed the daily demonstrations for fear of spreading the virus. After that, the coup in Myanmar on February 1 has brought massive protests with international attention shifting to the growing humanitarian crisis just across the border. On top of the pandemic and the Burmese coup, the Thai government has taken a much more hardline approach to protesters in recent months.

Police began fighting back against mass demonstrations, dispersing crowds with water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets. And after 2 years of leniency, the government has begun prosecuting people under the strict lèse-majesté laws, where offending the monarchy can carry harsh punishment including a jail sentence of up to 15 years.

Anon Nampa, a human-rights lawyer, and Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, a student activist, have already been arrested under this law and held without bail. Arrests like these have been demoralising for the pro-democracy movement, and have scared away a lot of Thai protesters. Many have shifted focus to more immediate efforts to demand the release of the detained protest leaders.

Even with the crowds shrinking, the protests have already brought about change, bringing once unspeakable conversations into the national conversation, and keeping pressure on Thailand’s leaders. Opposition is growing, with efforts to push no-confidence votes and amendments to the constitution being constantly proposed and advocated.

SOURCE: The Economist

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