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Protests

Saturday night protests around Bangkok end peacefully

Thaiger

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PGOTO: เยาวชนปลดแอก - Free YOUTH

Four different locations, between 15,000 – 20,000 protesters, all ending peacefully. Police were not far away from any of the gatherings but a clear message has come from the top to avoid another violent display like Friday night at the Pathumwan intersection in Bangkok’s central shopping district.

Police and government officials tried to short-circuit the protesters plans early yesterday afternoon by shutting down large chunks of the mass transit system – the Sukhumvit Line and the Airport Link, even parts of the MRT. Later they closed down the whole system in a blunt, but useless, tactic to try and stop the protest gatherings.

Their aim was to remove the means of transport available to the protesters to get to the venues. Their tactic had the effect of removing the popular mode of transport to all Bangkokians and did nothing to prevent protesters from getting to their protest locations.

Participants, of course, made their way to 3 other protest locations announced just after 3pm. Without the BTS they still had a myriad other means of getting to the rally positions, and they did. Rally organisers announced they would finish the rallies at 8pm. Most of the city’s transport routes resumed normal services between 8.30-9pm.

Police didn’t intervene at any of the protest locations.

The main gatherings were in Udom Suk, with a march to Bang Na (south east of the main city centre on the banks of the Chon Phraya), Wong Wian Yai (in Thonburi along the BTS line) and Lat Phrao (north east of the city centre). Other gatherings emerged at Sam Yan, Asok and Phaya Thai. There were also gatherings in other provinces, including Chiang Mai and Chon Buri (Pattaya), and smaller gatherings elsewhere.

It was an afternoon of cat and mouse with the protesters completely outmanuovering the police. Police secured the Victory Monument area, and later around the Asok BTS, but the protesters were never at Victory Monument and had moved on from Asok by the time they arrived.

In Lat Phrao, one of the largest gatherings, protesters were well prepared for another assault by riot police and handed out safety hard hats, goggles and raincoats. But the crackdown never came and the rally-goers dispersed of their own accord around 8.30pm.

The government is coming under heavy criticism after ordering riot police to bring an end to Friday night’s peaceful assembly at Pathumwan intersection in central Bangkok. Among a host of others, national artist Suchart Sawatsri and activist Nuttaa Mahattana, have joined the chorus of voices urging the Thai PM to stop using violence against the student-led protest movement.

Chulalongkorn economist Narong Petchprasert stated that there were two groups that disagreed with each other on the role of the monarchy… one wants to maintain the status quo and the other wants reform… while the third party aims to exploit the conflict between them to gain power and wealth, according to Nation Thailand.

The office of student council of Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University also released a statement saying that it doesn’t support violence by the government against the people, adding no violence should happen in society.

Greenpeace Thailand issued a statement that it “condemns the violent crackdown on a peaceful demonstration”.

“People have the right to perform non-violent protests, which are a fundamental human right. Greenpeace calls on the Thai government to stop the violence and unjustified action now”.

Across the landscape of social media there has been little support for the Thai PM and the police’ handling of the protests. The trending tags on social media have all been versions of demands for the Thai PM to stand down and a call for no more coups.

From his side PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has said he wouldn’t rule out a general curfew if the protests continued. He announced a State of Emergency on Thursday morning at 4am that prevented gatherings of more than 5 people with warnings about posting and sharing of information online that “could adversely affect national security”. The warnings were aimed at Thai citizens and the media.

Human Rights Watch have also sent an open letter to the Thai government condemning their crackdown on students and using weapons against peaceful protesters. The Pm has publicly backed up his Police Chief who claimed that the use of the batons and water cannons on Friday night was within “international laws”. But Human Rights Watch disagreed.

Under the 2020 United Nations guidance on less-lethal weapons in law enforcement, “Water cannon should only be used in situations of serious public disorder where there is a significant likelihood of loss of life, serious injury or the widespread destruction of property.” In addition, water cannon should “not target a jet of water at an individual or group of persons at short range owing to the risk of causing permanent blindness or secondary injuries if persons are propelled energetically by the water jet.”

In Pattaya, Chon Buri, there were several prominent pro-democracy protests in two locations. Protesters gathered around the Bali Hai Pier, then to the Pattaya City Police Station after being told by police that they were breaking the law.

In Chiang Mai there was a large and peaceful gathering at the Chiang Mai University. Police didn’t become involved in that meeting.

Saturday night protests around Bangkok end peacefully | News by Thaiger

Protesters gathering at Pattaya – Phakchira Sittiwong

Saturday night protests around Bangkok end peacefully | News by Thaiger

Protest gathering outside the Chiang Mai University

 

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Sunday, October 18, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    Well done.
    The protesters have proved they are not afraid of the police and will protest when the want.
    The police are reluctant to stop them, maybe because of the protesters number.
    In other parts of Thailand other Thais are protesting.
    This might not be start of an overthrow of the government . . .

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Protests

Activist Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul granted bail

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul is finally free on bail. (via Wikimedia)

Jailed student activist leader Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul has been granted bail of 200,000 baht today after repeated denials of bail requests over the last 2 months. Rung was detained on charges using Thailand’s strict lese majeste laws that carry a 15-year maximum sentence for insulting the royal monarchy and has been held without bail since March 8.

She joined her fellow activist leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak on March 30 in his hunger strike to protest the bail denials. Penguin was recently hospitalised over health concerns due to his hunger strike that began March 16.

Rung was granted bail just after 5 pm by the criminal court, with conditions. The 22 year old activist was ordered to wear a monitoring device and not do anything that the court could deem damaging to the monarchy.

After 59 days in jail and 36 days without food in her protest for freedom, the release is a pivot by the government, which has denied fellow activist Penguin’s request for bail 9 times already. Many of the leaders of the pro-democracy movement are still being detained, even after Covid-19 has infected one from within the prison.

Rung rose to national fame after a passionate speech at Thammasat University where she is a student on August 10. She recounted a 10-point manifesto demanding reforms in the government and the monarchy. She became a familiar face in the growing movement that has been fueled since last July by students and young protesters, demonstrating almost daily despite the harsh punishment the government could hand down using the lese majeste laws.

SOURCE: Coconuts

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

160 infected in Bangkok’s Bang Kae Covid-19 cluster

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Bang Kae is the latest Bangkok district to see a Covid-19 cluster spreading. (via Wikimedia)

An outbreak of about 160 new Covid-19 infections was identified today in Bangkok’s Bang Kae district, according to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. 1,413 people were tested by health workers in a Bang Kae department store on three dates – April 28, April 30, and May 1 – after 9 Cambodian employees in the store were confirmed to have Coronavirus infections on April 28. After testing the group, 4.8% of those tested returned positive results, a total of 68 Covid-19 infections.

In neighbouring Ban Khing, a community of about 1000 people, more and more residents are testing positive for Covid-19. On April 28 there were 30 infections identified, and on April 30 another 24 Covid-19 infections were diagnosed. 4 employees of the Route 7 buses were confirmed positive for the Coronavirus on May 2, with 70 more staff members waiting for test results. 25 more cases were identified on May 3. Testing yielded 4.3% infection rates on May 3 and an alarming 7.6% rate on April 30.

Bang Kae, along with Klong Toey and Pathumwan, was identified as urgent Bangkok locations with Covid-19 clusters spreading quickly according to the CCSA. Mass testing is underway to quickly isolate anybody with Covid-19, with locations being maintained by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.

Bang Kae currently ranks 10th out of Bangkok’s 50 districts, with 241 Covid-19 infections since April 1, but this new spread is worrisome. In the last month, an infection rate of just under 4% was found in Bangkok, with 1,677 infections found in 42,251 tests. This prompted the CCSA to issue a reminder urging people to be vigilant with 2-metre social distancing, and always wear a mask in public to try to slow the rate of infection and spread of Covid-19.

TOP 10 DISTRICTS IN BANGKOK WITH THE MOST INFECTIONS
RANK BANGKOK DISTRICT # OF INFECTIONS
1 Huai Khwang 463
2 Din Daeng 426
3 Bang Khen 357
4 Watthana 330
5 Chatuchak 356
6 Lat Phrao 325
7 Wang Thonglang 300
8 Suan Luang 290
9 Bang Kapi 282
10 Bang Kae 241

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Bangkok

Hundreds of Thailand slums at risk of Covid-19 as many can’t afford to quarantine

Thaiger

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Stock photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis for Unsplash

Following the Covid-19 outbreak at the Khlong Toey slum neighbourhood in Bangkok, there have been more than 1,000 slum communities have been identified as having similar living conditions as the Khlong Toey slum, and are now communities at high risk advised to be under watch to prevent another outbreak.

The Social Development and Human Security Ministry’s Community Organisations Development Institute pinpointed 1,270 slum communities, saying that many are similar to Khlong Toey. Areas of top concern of a potential outbreak include the large community by Khlong Prem Prachakorn with more than 10,000 people as well as a community of around 5,000 to 10,000 people who live by the Yommarat Railway. Other slums of top concern include communities of more than 3,000 people in both the Ratchathewi and Wang Thong Lang districts.

Out of the slums pointed out by the institute, more than 200 residents in the 260 communities have tested positive for Covid-19, according to the institute’s deputy director Panthip Petchmak. 700 more people were ordered to quarantine due to close contact with an infected person.

But stay at home orders are a problem for many as starvation is more frightening than the virus and 90% of residents in the slum communities still need to leave for work each day to keep food on the table. The daily average income for those in the slums is around 120 to 150 baht.

The institute is now working with community-level organisations to provide food, water, and supplements to those in poor neighbourhoods in an effort to keep people at home, preventing the spread of Covid-19.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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