Conflicts & War

Thai police fire rubber bullets, tear gas to break up anti-government protest

Bangkok, Aug 7 (EFE).- Thai police on Saturday fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse a crowd of around 1,000 people who took to the streets of Bangkok to protest against the government amid public discontent over its handling of the pandemic.

A hundred agents tried to block the rally organized by the Free Youth movement in central Bangkok to demand the resignation of prime minister Prayut Chan-Ocha.

The demonstrators played a game of cat-and-mouse with the security forces, who blocked streets and squares and forcibly cleared the area around the Democracy Monument, the scene of multiple protests in Bangkok.

Initially, the demonstration was supposed to end at the Royal Grand Palace, but due to the heavy police presence, the march changed its route towards the Government House, although it also failed to make it the seat of the Chief Executive.

Photos on social media show some protesters who were injured by police, who used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons.

Free Youth was one of the student groups that took to the streets last year to demand reforms of the monarchy and the constitution.

Over the past few weeks, several rallies have taken place in Bangkok to protest the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has had a severe impact on the economy.

Thailand on Saturday reported a new record of nearly 22,000 coronavirus cases and 212 deaths.

The surge in cases has prompted the government to impose restrictions in Bangkok and 28 other provinces, including a nighttime curfew, limiting gatherings to five people and the closure of restaurants and malls among others.

Hospitals in Bangkok, the epicenter of the infections, are near collapse with beds set up in parking lots and, in some centers, containers have been converted into spaces to treat patients.

A lack of vaccine supplies is also exacerbating Thailand’s health crisis.

On Friday, a Bangkok court suspended an order approved by the government to punish with up to two years in jail spreading information about the pandemic that could generate panic, which is being widely viewed as an attempt to silence dissent and criticism of the government. EFE


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