Conflicts & War

Police shut Bangkok transport over student protests

(Update: adds details of transport closures)

Bangkok, Oct 17 (efe-epa).- Thai police ordered the closure of Bangkok’s public transport network on Saturday to prevent another day of peaceful protests calling for democratic reforms.

Almost all mass rail transit in the capital has been suspended and authorities warned people not to join demonstrations that violate a ban on groups of people gathering.

Dozens of demonstrators gathered at the doors of several stations protesting against the closures.

The student-led pro-democracy movement issued a fresh protest call for Saturday after the police dispersed thousands of demonstrators at Bangkok’s city center using water cannons.

Protests have continued in the country despite the government imposing a state of emergency on Thursday and banning political gatherings of more than four people.

“We will continue our protest on (Saturday) (even though) the government has arrested all our leaders,” the organizing group, which identifies itself as “People,” said in a statement.

The organizers have announced that the demonstration would take place at 4 pm without specifying the venue, a possible tactic to dodge the massive deployment of police to prevent the gathering.

Since Tuesday, authorities have arrested around 50 demonstrators, including at least four leaders of the students’ movement that broke out in July, demanding pro-democracy reforms in the government and the monarchy.

The group condemned the “violent” police action on Friday night, when hundreds of anti-riot officers dispersed a peaceful protest in central Bangkok, spraying blue-dyed water which allegedly contained chemicals that stung the eye, according to protesters.

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