Thai protesters clash with police over handling of pandemic

Published : August 11, 2021 19:37 IST

Protests have united anger over lack of reforms with anger over the handling of the Coronavirus crisis. Photo: Soe Zeya Tun/REUTERS

Protesters have marked the anniversary of a call for reforming the Thai monarchy by clashing with police. Officers responded with rubber bullets and water cannons.

Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons against protesters in Bangkok on August 10, the second time authorities and demonstrators have clashed in just four days. Hundreds of people took to the streets to express their anger against the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis and a general call for progress and political reform.

One year on from student rally

The demonstration marked the one-year anniversary of a student rally that set out a list of monarchy reforms, that triggered heated clashes with police and monarchists. Participants in Tuesday's protest drove around in cars or on motorbikes, in what has been called a "car mob," separating into various groups to avoid restrictions on public gatherings introduced to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Some protesters threw rocks and launched fireworks at riot police. Two police traffic booths were also set on fire, according to AFP.

Why are people protesting?

Protesters are angry with the government's perceived mishandling of the pandemic which has left the country battling a recent surge in cases with very few people vaccinated. Daily cases are hovering around 20,000.

Restrictions have also brought economic hardship as many businesses have been forced to close. But the protests also go back to the pro-democracy movement kicked off largely by young people last year that saw tens of thousands of protesters take to the streets to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha.

"The authoritarian Prayut Chan-ocha government continues to seek, allocate, and distribute benefits for the ruling class, allowing people to get sick and die on their own fate," student activist Benja Apan told those who had come out, AFP reported.

Several police officers injured

Police had warned participants not to violate coronavirus restrictions ahead of the protest. Thailand's Civil Court told police to "exercise caution" when dealing with protesters, but rejected calls to ban the use of rubber bullets.

The deputy commissioner for the Metropolitan Police Bureau told reporters that six police officers were injured in the clashes. A local emergency medical center said there had been no reports of injured protesters. But at least six individuals were taken into custody and almost 100 motorbikes were confiscated.

ab/jsi (AFP, AP)

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor