BANGKOK (The Nation): The Royal Thai Police will recall all Chinese-made tear-gas canisters that are now blamed for causing horrific injuries and deaths to People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) demonstrators during last Tuesday’s clash outside Parliament.
The recalled canisters will be destroyed, Ordnance and Quartermaster Division Commander Phuwadon Wuttakanok said yesterday.
“The firing test shows that tear-gas canisters supplied by a Chinese company have problems,” he said.
Phuwadon said the tear-gas canisters had been bought in the wake of the Black May incident in 1992, in which police used bullets and guns to control the crowds. The resulting casualties were huge, prompting officials to look for alternative riot-control equipment.
“The government approved the budget to buy tear gas in 1993,” Phuwadon said. “The Chinese supplier was chosen because its product was popular back then.”
After receiving the tear-gas canisters from China, the Ordnance and Quartermaster Division distributed them to a number of police units.
“No such canisters were left in our depot. So I didn’t know that such a type of tear-gas equipment existed,” Phuwadon said.
On October 8, the day after last Tuesday’s government-sponsored mayhem, Phuwadon’s division conducted a demonstration of tear-gas canisters and the stock did not seem to have the power to blow off people’s limbs.
However, as has been documented in hundreds of newspaper photographs sent around the world, many PAD demonstrators had lost fingers, toes, hands, arms and legs when police fired tear gas into the crowd on October 7.
“We then found that in another location there was the other type of tear-gas canister. We therefore collected them for testing. Since seeing that such canisters could injure people, we decided to recall and destroy them,” Phuwadon said.
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