The protest was called off after 6.30 pm after violent clashes with police lines as protesters burned effigies of Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha and carried body bags signifying those who have died during the pandemic emergency. Sunday’s protest was in clear violation of the amended Emergency Decree which outlaws gatherings of more than 5 people. It comes as the government extended the lockdown in Bangkok and in other provinces to August 2nd and includes three further provinces.
Protesters aligned with the Free Youth group burned an effigy of the Prime Minister on Sunday afternoon in Bangkok as young activists clashed with police lines at the height of a rally which targeted the government and its perceived mishandling of the virus crisis. The protest was called off by leaders at 6.30 pm to allow those taking part to return home before the curfew came into effect in the capital from 9 pm.
Police were forced to fire tear gas and rubber bullets on Sunday as a protest organised by the Free Youth group threatened to become violent as protesters burned at least one effigy of Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha in protest over the mishandling of the country’s virus emergency on a day when Thailand reported a record level of infections at 11,397 and 24 hours after the death tally for Saturday was confirmed as the worst ever at 147 with 101 people reported as deceased on Sunday.
The Deputy Chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau Police Major General Piya Tawichai later briefed the media and said that police had intercepted some of the effigies which demonstrators had been intent upon burning outside Government House.
Lockdown extended to 3 more provinces and until August 2nd as the army is deployed to assist efforts
The government, in the last 24 hours, has extended the lockdown of Bangkok and nine provinces to a further three provinces while it has also extended, new, more stringent public health measures until August 2nd amid an escalating crisis that has already seen the army deployed to assist health workers in detecting infections in Bangkok’s inner-city areas.
The crisis also coincides with a growing political controversy over the supply of vaccines to the country’s struggling vaccination drive where the government is committed to administering 100 million doses to 50 million adults in Thailand by the end of 2021.
Target of Sunday’s protests was PM Prayut Chan ocha whose effigy was burned near Nang Loeng Avenue prompting police intervention and clashes
The protests on Sunday afternoon were earlier joined by cars and motorbikes blaring horns and members of the public who made their displeasure with the government known.
The protesters gathered near Democracy Monument, the locality where the protest movement erupted without notice last year taking authorities by surprise.
Many carried homemade puppets or plastic body bags sprinkled with red paint designed to represent victims of the pandemic as well as a number of effigies representing the Prime Minister, General Prayut Chan ocha, who was the target of today’s proceedings.
Calls for the government to go over virus crisis
One participant at the scene, 34-year-old Kanyaporn Veeratat, told news agency Reuters that it was now imperative to remove the present government and the Prime Minister from power.
‘The government has been poor at managing the situation and if we don’t do anything there will be no change,’ she said.
The protest today was in open contravention and defiance of the Emergency Decree which was strengthened in recent days to ban gatherings of more than 5 people in public.
Police prevented march on Government House but were forced to use tear gas and other means resulting in chaos on the streets as protest guards fought back
As the protesters moved through Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue and attempted to march to Government House, the police intervened and for a short time, the situation became violent and chaotic.
Near Nang Loeng Avenue the protesters fired their effigies.
Police used water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets against the crowd and amid smoke and confusion, matters threatened to get out of hand.
A key leader at today’s gathering was Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul who tweeted at the height of the confrontation a provocative message accusing the government of being responsible for nothing short of murder.
‘Murderous government!’ the fiery protester leader wrote.
Similar comments saw key political leader Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan facing prosecution last week
Similar comments made this month by former Pheu Thai Prime Ministerial candidate Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan saw her facing prosecution this week as officials filed a complaint with police. Feelings on both sides of power over this current crisis are running high.
Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan is the leader of the newly formed Thai Srang Thai (National Building Party) and is consistently rated in opinion polls as a potential candidate identified among the public for the post of Prime Minister.
Organisers call off the protests at 6.30 pm, 30 minutes after police issued clear warnings of further action
Just after 6 pm, police fired tear gas and called on the rally organisers to halt their activities as they witnessed the burning of effigies and matters appear to be getting out of hand.
Police made it clear that decisive action would be taken.
For twenty minutes or so guards with the protest movement fought back at the police lines before at 6.30 pm the protest leadership called a halt and gradually tensions diminished.
It is reported that protest leaders were mindful of the curfew in effect from 9 pm in Bangkok and did not wish to see a potential escalation of the situation given the gravity of the virus situation right now.