Thai protesters, police clash near PM’s residence

Emergency services say 16 injured as police use tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets on pro-democracy protesters near residence of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O-Cha.

A protester surrounded by riot police officers raises his arms during an anti-government protest in Bangkok, Thailand February 28, 2021 [Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]

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

Protesters threw bottles at police and marched up to a barricade of shipping containers and barbed wire at the entrance to the base of the 1st Infantry Regiment in Bangkok, one of several army units that the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O-Cha transferred to the king’s control in 2019.

Erawan Emergency Services said 16 people were injured.

The Thai youth-led political movement was launched last year to demand Prayuth’s resignation and broke taboos by calling for reforms of the monarchy.

The movement lost steam when it took a break in December and January as Thailand was hit by a second wave of coronavirus infections.

However, the arrest of four prominent protest leaders recently has reinvigorated the pro-democracy protests.

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 anti-government protester has her eyes rinsed after tear gas was sprayed during a protest in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, February 28, 2021 [AP]

An estimated 2,000 demonstrators marched from the major Bangkok intersection Victory Monument to the nearby military barracks.

Protesters also showed support for anti-coup demonstrations in Myanmar, which has been in chaos since the army seized power and detained elected government leader Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1.

Their action was linked to the informal Milk Tea Alliance of pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Myanmar, which on Sunday called for efforts in support of the protests in Myanmar.

Prayuth was targeted in part because he met Wednesday in Bangkok with the new foreign minister appointed by Myanmar’s military rulers.

“Prayuth welcoming a Myanmar official from their military government to Thailand earlier this week also show that he is supporting the dictator there,” Chukiat Sangwong, a Thai protest leader told Reuters news agency.

“This is not ok with the Myanmar people, so they have joined us here,” he said.

On Sunday, a crackdown on protesters in the Myanmar’s largest city Yangon by security forces left at least 18 people dead, according to the UN Human Rights Office.

Source: News Agencies