Bomb blast in Bangkok comes as the military in Myanmar work to embed their position amid growing resistance on the streets but also desperate calls from those close to Aung San Suu Kyi and the former ruling National League for Democracy Party for the international community to do more before the country slides back into its autocratic past.
Thai police in Bangkok have launched an investigation into two small bomb devices which exploded near the Myanmar embassy in the country on Monday night after an anti-coup protest ended. It comes as protests in Myanmar are growing against the February 1st coup as the country approaches Union Day on Friday.
Thai police in Bangkok, on Monday night, appealed to the public for help in providing any information after explosive devices went off near the Myanmar Embassy in the Bang Rak area of the city on Sathon Nua road.
The devices went off after a protest against the coup in Myanmar organised by the We Volunteer (WeVo) group, had come to an end. No one was injured.
Similar to an incident on Chamchuri Square in January
The incident is similar to an explosion that occurred in Chamchuri Square on January 16th when a device went off at the end of a protest against the use of Article 112 by the government when a journalist and two police officers received minor injuries.
Two members of the ‘Free Guard’ movement were arrested less than two weeks later by police in connection with the use of a ping pong bomb device.
Two ping pong bombs remotely detonated but not life-threatening say police seeking the public’s help
On Monday, a spokesman for the Royal Thai Police confirmed that the devices used in last night’s explosions were two ping pong bombs that had been remotely detonated.
‘The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit investigated the scene and found shreds of material from small remote-detonated explosives, similar to ping-pong bombs.’
Police Major General Yingyot Thepjamnong described the devices as low powered. ‘Ping-pong bombs have a small blast radius and are not life-threatening. We suspect that the throwers only aimed to create confusion.’
He then called for the co-operation of the public in helping to track down those involved and to be on alert.
‘Police would like to ask citizens to be our eyes and ears during this sensitive time. If you see any suspicious persons or incidents, please call the police immediately at 191 or 1599, which are available 24/7,’ he urged.
Metropolitan Police Bureau Chief to give a press conference on the incident amid raised tensions
He revealed that the Chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau Police, Lieutenant General Phukphong Phongpetra, would give a press conference in Bangkok on Tuesday.
It comes as protests are scheduled to begin again in the city this week amid rising tension linked with the coup in Myanmar which has resulted in remarkable scenes in Thailand’s capital city where riot police have had to be called and arrests made as Thai pro-democracy activists, finding common cause with protesters in Myanmar, have been joined by Myanmar residents in Thailand.
Coup leader’s TV address sparks protest resurgence
Meanwhile, in Yangon on Tuesday, the day began with thousands taking to the streets following a TV address by coup leader General Min Aung Hlaing on Monday night in which the use of Section 144, a dreaded law often deployed to initiate crackdowns, was mentioned.
Over the weekend, the country to Thailand’s west has seen its largest political protests in decades as civilian groups and the younger generation digest the implications of the early morning coup d’état on the February 1st in which the country’s State Counsellor and leader Aung San Suu Kyi was detained followed by raids which saw hundreds of political activists and leaders placed under arrest by the military junta as it moved to embed itself as the government.
In Yangon, the people appear to be in defiant mood
The crowd were in a defiant mood on Tuesday as a critical week plays out with the country’s Union Day approaches on Friday.
This is normally a day when the military in the country likes to display its authority.
The day commemorates the Panglong Agreement in 1947 when Burma became a unified state, a prelude to its independence from British rule which came on January 4th 1948.
On Tuesday, one snack seller in Yangon bought a red balloon and vowed to be on the street protesting while a teacher, Thein Win Soe, told the AFP News Agency (AFP) that people were not intimidated by the army’s reach for Section 144.
‘We are not worried about their warning. That’s why we came out today. We cannot accept their excuse of vote fraud. We do not want any military dictatorship,’ he said defiantly.
Crackdown and curfew are expected
Nevertheless, a crackdown is expected from what is known to be a fierce and brutal military force.
The United States embassy in Myanmar has confirmed that it is aware of a proposed 8 pm to 4 am curfew in the two key cities of Yangon and Mandalay.
Myanmar military leader claims fraud by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy and hints at a new constitution with more parties
The resurgent protest activity on Tuesday comes in response to the speech on TV by the military leader, Min Aung Hlaing, in which he repeated that the November 8th election was tainted by fraud orchestrated by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party which won 396 out of 664 seats in the country’s bicameral parliament compared to 33 for the military’s proxy party.
The army boss promised a return to what he termed a ‘true and disciplined democracy’.
He appeared to suggest a new constitution for the country which would favour more political parties and curb the dominance of the National League for Democracy Party which is centred on and controlled by the 75-year-old Nobel laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi.
‘We will have a multiparty election and we will hand the power to the one who wins in that election, according to the rules of democracy,’ General Min Aung Hlaing declared.
Opposition to the junta is illegal
On TV, the public was warned that opposition to the new junta was illegal and that the military would act to unify the nation.
‘Action must be taken according to the law with effective steps against offences which disturb, prevent and destroy the state’s stability, public safety and the rule of law,’ the statement said.
In response, a young poet and activist who has faced prosecution by Myanmar authorities in the past, Maung Saungkha, vowed to carry on the fight and called for the ‘complete collapse of dictatorship’ in the country as well as a federal government system to empower all ethnicities.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s aide pleads with António Guterres
It is understood that a close aide to Aung San Suu Kyi has called on UN secretary-general, António Guterres, to do everything possible to reverse the coup in the country at this time.
At the White House, the administration of Joe Biden is said to be considering, at this point, targeted sanctions against the coup leaders.
The UN Human Rights Council is to discuss Myanmar on Friday while in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said her country will impose a travel ban on the coup’s leaders while also restricting aid to Myanmar to ensure it does not benefit military activities in the country.