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Tear gas, rubber bullets deployed against anti-government protesters in Bangkok

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Anti-government protesters in Bangkok earlier this month. PHOTO: Facebook/Ratsadon (ราษฎร)

Police in Bangkok resorted to using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse anti-government protesters yesterday, after hundreds of people rallied in the capital. A report in the UK’s Guardian newspaper recounts how activists used cars and motorbikes to avoid spreading Covid-19. Yesterday’s protesters had 3 demands: the resignation of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, a reduction in the military and monarchy’s budget, and the procurement of mRNA vaccines, still sorely lacking in the Kingdom.

Protesters assembled at the Democracy Monument yesterday afternoon, where organisers handed out hand sanitiser, N95 masks, medical gloves, and raincoats, before making their way to Government House. Mock corpses in white burial shrouds, representing those who have died of Covid-19, were placed on the ground near Government House, on top of a picture of the PM, and set alight.

Today, Thailand has reported a record high of 11,784 new infections and 81 Covid-related deaths. Bangkok and a number of other high-risk provinces are under partial lockdown and anger at the government’s handling of the pandemic is growing. In particular, the failure to procure effective vaccines, instead relying on locally produced AstraZeneca and the Chinese Sinovac, has seen the government come in for harsh condemnation. Sinovac is widely seen as ineffective against the Delta variant, which is now becoming the dominant strain in the Kingdom, while Siam Bioscience, the local manufacturer of AstraZeneca, is struggling to meet production targets.

Around 1,500 police officers, accompanied by water cannon trucks, confronted activists from the Free Youth group yesterday. Despite Covid-19 restrictions banning gatherings of more than 5 people, spokesperson Jutatip Sirikhan says activists wanted to protest the government’s mismanagement of the pandemic, which they say has contributed to countless unnecessary deaths.

“If we don’t come out now, we don’t know how long we shall survive and whether we will have a chance to do it again.”

Thailand has now reported 415,170 infections and 3,422 deaths since the start of the pandemic, with over 90% of those occurring since April of this year.

SOURCE: The Guardian

 

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