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Another protest scheduled in Bangkok at 4pm, police deny using tear gas last night

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Another protest scheduled in Bangkok at 4pm, police deny using tear gas last night | Thaiger
PHOTO: Santichai Lae Chavajit

Another pro-democracy rally has been called today by protest organisers. With many of the original leaders now in custody, many more have stepped up to take their place and are using a sophisticated network of messaging and social media to stay one step ahead of the police and authorities that are trying to intercept their plans.

Another rally is planned for the city this evening. This follows the heavy-handed break up of last nights rally, deemed illegal under the current State of Emergency, by Thai police and riot squads.

Just before 8pm Thai police, having earlier cleared and secured the Ratchprason intersection 800 metres away in “preparation” for a proposed protest, police arrived with 3 large water cannons and moved in on the peaceful assembly.

In an official statement this morning, the “Khana Ratsadorn” (People’s Party) condemned last night’s “violent crackdown” on the rally. Hundreds of people live streamed the events on social media to an international audience of several million. They were able to see protesters sprayed with high-pressure water cannon and charged by riot police with shields and batons.

“The violent dispersal of the crowd “demonstrates that the government andthe military have declared themselves enemy of the people.”

Khana Ratsadon (Thai: คณะราษฎร), meaning ‘People’s Party’, was a Siamese group of military and civil officers, and later a political party, which staged a bloodless coup against King Prajadhipok’s government and transformed the country’s absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy on June 24, 1932 – Wikipedia

“We want to reaffirm that we will continue with a rally on October 17 (today) even though the government might have arrested all of our key leaders.”

But police have defended their actions, insisting that the response taken against the protesters “were proportionate and necessary” as the protesters defied the State of Emergency that bans public gathering of more than 5 people.

The deputy metropolitan chief, Pol Maj Gen Piya Tavichai, denied that tear-gas was used against the protesters. Many social media reports from the scene circulated as the police moved in on the protesters that they were using tear gas. Some protesters also reported that the blue-dyed water, used in the water cannons, was stinging their eyes.

The organisers have scheduled today’s rally for 4pm but would not disclose the venue.

The crackdown last night, a watershed moment in the current round of previously peaceful protests, has been condemned by international business and human rights groups, many seeing the response as “an excessive use of force against unarmed and peaceful demonstrators”.

From Human Rights Watch this morning…

Thai police unnecessarily used water cannon against peaceful pro-democracy protesters in Bangkok on October 16, 2020, in violation of international human rights standards, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities acted under state of emergency powers declared the previous day, which allows the security forces to commit abuses with impunity.

At about 6:30 p.m., police forcibly dispersed a demonstration organized by the pro-democracy People’s Movement in which thousands of people, including many students, took part. Human Rights Watch observed the police using water cannon laced with blue dye and an apparent teargas chemical to break up the protest in Bangkok’s Pathumwan shopping district. The police then charged in with batons and shields to disperse the protesters. Scores were arrested. The government has not yet provided details about people in police custody. After the crackdown, 12 protest leaders are being sought on arrest warrants.

Student unions of 8 leading Thai universities last night issued a joint statement condemning the crackdown and called on the government to “use peaceful means to resolve the ongoing conflict”.

 

SOURCES: Thai PBS World | Human Rights Watch | Facebook/Free Youth

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Saturday, October 17, 2020 at 11:35 am

    Just give them a government election! Naw there is no chance of that.
    The government pigs have their noses deep in the countries wealth trough and will have to be kicked to get them away from it.
    The provinces are having elections, so the covid prevention excuse is not valid to prevent government elections.

  2. Avatar

    patty

    Saturday, October 17, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    Will we ever see an end to this as both sides not willing to budge

  3. Avatar

    Nipral

    Saturday, October 17, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    Quite odd not to see Big Mike (Pompeo) jumping up and down and passing another
    Democracy & Human Rights bill like for Hong Kong.
    Bangkok is not in China I guess !!!

    • Avatar

      Scuzz

      Sunday, October 18, 2020 at 1:06 am

      Seems to me that the Hong Kong protests had been going on and accelerating for well over a year before that fatso opened his mouth. Give it time!

  4. Avatar

    Issan John

    Saturday, October 17, 2020 at 4:30 pm

    Very unlikely tear gas of any sort was used, since none of the police in the immediate vicinity wore gas masks; perfectly possible, though, that the water contained an irritant which wouldn’t be unusual.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

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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