Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thai police fire rubber bullets at protesters outside PM’s residence



Thai police fire rubber bullets at protesters outside PM’s residence

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A water-cannon truck is deployed by the police to disperse pro-democracy protesters marching toward the residence of Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in Bangkok on Sunday. AFP

Thai police fire rubber bullets at protesters outside PM’s residence

Thai police shot rubber bullets and used water cannons and tear gas against pro-democracy protesters in Bangkok on February 28 at a rally outside a military barracks housing the prime minister’s residence.

A youth-led protest movement calling for the resignation of Prayut Chan-o-cha’s government had lost steam in recent months following a second wave of coronavirus infections in Thailand.

But the recent detention of four prominent protest leaders on royal defamation charges has given it a shot in the arm.

The four are among 58 protesters facing lese majeste charges and the prospect of up to 15 years in jail per charge if convicted of insulting the monarchy.

An estimated 2,000 demonstrators marched from the major Bangkok intersection Victory Monument on February 28 to a nearby military barracks where Prayut lives.

Among the protesters were scores of migrant workers from neighbouring Myanmar rallying against the coup that ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.

Some Thai protesters marched wearing hard hats and carried red flags.

Hundreds later pushed through shipping containers and barbed-wire barricades, leading to a confrontation with riot police guarding the entrance of the barracks.

Scuffles broke out between riot squad officers and protesters, while some demonstrators were seen pushing a police truck.

One protester at the front line told Thai media: “They are preparing everything, shields, baton, water with some chemical and rubber bullets.”

Amid the tense stand-off, officers used water-cannon trucks and let off tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd – the first use of force, albeit non-lethal, at a Bangkok rally for several months.

Protesters shouted for water and saline as they were sprayed. Some wore raincoats while others held their bare hands in the air or raised three figures – a symbol of resistance.

Officers later shot rubber bullets, according to an AFP journalist on the ground.

“It doesn’t hurt too much,” a protester told Thai media, showing a red mark on his arm.

Some protesters threw glass bottles, rocks and bricks at officers while others took refuge inside a nearby Shell petrol station, which later closed early.

Despite protest organisers sending a social media message at around 8:30pm local time (1330 GMT) urging demonstrators to go home, scores stuck around, many on motorbikes playing a cat and mouse game with advancing police.

A doctor from the Erawan Emergency Medical Centre said 16 protesters were injured.

At least two protesters were arrested, according to a live Facebook feed, however police have not confirmed the total number.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said 19 were arrested including a 16-year-old.

Thailand’s pro-democracy movement kicked off last July and at its peak attracted tens of thousands of mostly young people.

Among the movement’s demands are a rewrite of the army-drafted constitution and reforms to the monarchy – a taboo-smashing demand in a country where the ultra-wealthy royal family has long been untouchable.

MOST VIEWED

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • School reopening ‘offers model for other sectors’

    World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said school reopening process should be used as a role model for reopening other sectors currently mothballed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Li strongly supports the government’s decision to reopen schools, saying it is a decision