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Activists dispersed, protest leaders arrested, as State of Emergency declared in Bangkok

Maya Taylor

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Activists dispersed, protest leaders arrested, as State of Emergency declared in Bangkok | Thaiger
Protest leaders Arnon Nampa and Panupong Jadnok - PHOTO: Nation Thailand

“It is extremely necessary to introduce an urgent measure to end this situation effectively and promptly to maintain peace and order.”

This was how state television announced the imposition of a State of Emergency in the capital in the early hours of this morning, effectively ending a political rally at Government House that had been set to continue “indefinitely”, according to protest leaders. Bangkok’s emergency decree means large gatherings (in this case, more than 5 people) are banned, and officials can prevent people from entering “any area” they decide is off-limits. It’s understood that around 20 activists have been arrested, including 4 prominent protest leaders.

The Bangkok Post reports that the State of Emergency also prohibits the, “publication of news, other media, and electronic information that contains messages that could create fear or intentionally distort information. Furthermore, information that might create a misunderstanding that will affect national security or peace and order.”

While Thailand’s ongoing political unrest does not make headline news around the world most days, this latest development has been picked up by the BBC and NY Times.

Below is a rough timeline of how events unfolded:

4am: A State of Emergency is imposed on the capital, with the government accusing the protest movement of “causing public disorder and threatening the security of the state and the public”. They also claim protesters disrupted the Royal motorcade that passed along part of the protest route yesterday late afternoon.

4.30am: Riot police move in and take over the rally area at Government House, with trucks carrying soldiers seen entering the grounds. Protest leaders Arnon Nampa, Prasit Karutarote, Parit Chiwarak and Panupong Jadnok are arrested.

5.30am: Protesters are forced to disperse, with many trying to resist and using rubbish bins and rubbish bin lids as shields, but they are overwhelmed by riot police. As daylight breaks, the surrounding streets are filled with 100s of police officers and workers have begun cleaning the area.

6.30am: Protesters can be seen helping each other find somewhere to rest. Many have travelled from other provinces, most likely assuming they would be camping out at Government House.

Some commentators have noted that the State of Emergency and subsequent events all unfolded before sunrise. Protest leader Arnon Nampa has previously tried to reassure activists that by law, the authorities can only break up a protest during daylight hours.

Around 10,000 protesters took part in yesterday’s demonstration. Since July, anti-government activists all over the country have been calling for the resignation of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, followed by the dissolution of parliament, fresh elections and a re-write of the constitution. As the protests have grown, so have the demands, with a 10-point manifesto issued by activists also calling for reform of the country’s monarchy, normally a totally taboo subject. Thailand’s extremely strict lèse-majesté law prohibits any criticism or defamation of the Monarchy.

What happens next remains to be seen. Early news reports say that, despite the introduction of the emergency decree and the arrest of their leaders, the protesters have vowed to fight on. Civil unrest and political protests are not new to Thailand. What makes this situation different is that it is very “grass roots’ based with a younger breed of protesters and students leading the way, with opposition MPs, in the past taking the front line, standing by. The demands to reform the country’s monarchy, previously a taboo topic for polite discussion, and rarely voiced publicly, are also defining this round of protests.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Chiang Rai Times | Prachathai English

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE: Wednesday’s new infections rise to 1,335 people, 36 people in “serious condition”

Tim Newton

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Covid UPDATE: Wednesday’s new infections rise to 1,335 people, 36 people in “serious condition” | Thaiger

Thailand’s CCSA has announced 1,335 new infections today, after a slight dip in the 10 day surge yesterday. 1,326 of those new infections are local, not imported, and mostly from Bangkok. Today’s tally takes the national total to 35,910 since January 2020 when the first case outside China was detected in Thailand on January 13.

The new infections have mostly emerged in Bangkok with 351 cases. Surrounding provinces report an additional 115 infections today. In other provinces, 877 people.

It’s also been reported today that 36 people are currently in a serious condition and 9 people are on ventilators. Here’s the number of cases reported each day since the start of April…

April 1 – 26 infections

April 2 – 58 infections

April 3 – 84 infections

April 4 – 96 infections

April 5 – 194 infections

April 6 – 250 infections

April 7 – 334 infections

April 8 – 405 infections

April 9 – 559 infections

April 10 – 789 infections

April 11 – 967 infections

April 12 – 985 infections

April 13 – 965 infections

April 14 – 1,335 infections

Meanwhile, Prachuap Khiri Khan officials have ordered the closure of “high risk venues” such as pubs, bars, water parks, children’s playgrounds, gyms, cinemas, game shops. The Governor says restaurants can open “but no alcohol can be served”. This includes the seaside town of Hua Hin.

In Krabi there is now a total of 11 infections, 6 new ones yesterday.

In Chon Buri, which includes Pattaya, there were 99 new confirmed infections of Covid today … a similar number to the past few days.

Total number of infections being treated in provinces…

• Bangkok: 1,689
• Chiang Mai: 880
• Chonburi: 594
• Samut Prakan: 416
• Narathiwat: 304
• Prachuap Khiri Khan: 265
• Samut Sakhon: 166
• Pathum Thani: 124
• Sa Kaeo 105
Covid UPDATE: Wednesday's new infections rise to 1,335 people, 36 people in 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Bangkok police tracking down owners of Thong Lor clubs where virus resurfaced

Maya Taylor

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Bangkok police tracking down owners of Thong Lor clubs where virus resurfaced | Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook / Krystal Club

Police in Bangkok are on the hunt for the owners of 2 nightclubs considered ground zero for a third wave of Covid-19 currently spreading around the country. The Krystal Club and Emerald Thonglor 13, in the capital’s fashionable Thonglor district, are currently closed, with the managers of both sentenced to 2 months’ imprisonment. However, officials are now attempting to track down the real owners of both establishments.

Nation Thailand reports that the authorities are examining ownership and shareholding documentation related to the 2 venues, after police chief Piya Tawichai confirmed a cluster of Covid-19 infections is believed to have spread from the clubs. The managers of both venues have been charged with violating the emergency decree and disease prevention regulations, with the Bangkok Municipal Court sentencing them to 2 months’ imprisonment on April 9.

The head of Metropolitan Police Division 5, Sophon Saraphat, has also transferred 2 Thonglor police officers, including the superintendent of Thonglor police station, while an investigation into the Covid-19 cluster continues.

Sophon says authorities are also examining the operating licences of both clubs, which have been closed for 30 days, while officials determine if they should be shut down for a period of 5 years.

3 nightlife venues in Phuket, thought to be behind a resurgence of Covid-19 in the southern province have been closed as part of a wider temporary shutdown of nightlife on the island. It is not yet known if the owners will face prosecution.

The Illuzion and Shelter nightclubs in Patong, along with the Café del Mar beach club in Kamala each held mass parties during the weekend of April 2- 4, with invited guests travelling from as far as Bangkok. Media reports put attendance at each party at over 3,000.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UPDATE: Field hospitals being established in Covid hot zones around Thailand

Tim Newton

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UPDATE: Field hospitals being established in Covid hot zones around Thailand | Thaiger

UPDATE: The field hospital in Bangkok’s Bang Bon district, west of the Chao Phraya river, had its first 10 Covid patients today. The director of the medical services office of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says that the 10 patients into the makeshift hospital, located at the Chalerm Phra Kiat Stadium, will enable assessment of the performance by the medical team, before more patients arrive – Thai PBS World

ORIGINAL STORY: Despite the confident posture and Songkran going ahead, amid restrictions, there is a lot of background activity which suggest the authorities are getting ready for a surge of new infections at the end of the Songkran break, officially this Thursday (but in reality, next Sunday at the end of the weekend when most people who travelled home will return for a resumption of work).

The Thai lunar new year celebrations – Songkran – are the largest mass movement of Thais each year, a source for a huge leap in road deaths and accidents. And, this year, a potential super-spreader event.

Quietly, at least 3,000 extra beds have been prepared in 10 field hospitals around Bangkok. The government has also confirmed that additional field hospitals are being set up in other potential ‘hot zones’, including Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chonburi and Hua Hin. Some of them were set up last year, and since closed, and now being prepared for new positive infections.

One Thai person who had been in one of the field hospitals put together a check-list of things to take IF you end up as an invited ‘guest’ HERE.

The CCSA say they are looking for additional beds in hotels and previous state quarantine facilities (where repatriating Thais were housed for their free quarantine) to be used if needed.

This year’s Songkran had bad timing, coming just a week after a number of major clusters were identified around some of Bangkok’s popular nightlife areas in 3 key inner city districts. Even before Songkran these isolated clusters had already spread into the provinces. In the weekend before Songkran the government had already listed 37 provinces which had instigated some form of paperwork or restrictions for people who had been in any of the 3 Bangkok districts.

The government also leapt on the source of the new outbreaks – bars, clubs and entertainment venues – and promptly shut them down for at least 2 weeks. At this stage it looks likely that that ban will be extended beyond the 2 weeks and, depending on the extent of new infections following the Songkran holiday, additional restrictions will also be added.

Even today the Civil Aviation Authority published a number of new in-flight restrictions for passengers – another blow to the hard-hit domestic aviation sector.

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