Thai police fire tear gas in clash with hundreds of protesters

 

Thai police fired tear gas to
disperse hundreds of anti-government protesters who pushed through
barriers and clashed with security forces today as thousands
gathered seeking to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's
government.

The royalist Pitak Siam group, led by retired military general Boonlert Kaewprasit, accuses Yingluck's government of corruption and being a puppet of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck's brother.

It has attracted the support of yellow-shirted members of the People's Alliance for Democracy who helped destabilize and topple governments led or backed by Thaksin in 2006 and 2008.

Thaksin remains a deeply divisive figure in Thailand. He was ousted in a 2006 military-backed coup and fled the country in 2008 shortly before being found guilty of abuse of power.

"If I can't overthrow this government, I am prepared to die," Boonlert told supporters in Thai. In English, he said: "The world will see this corrupted and cruel government. The world can see the government under a puppet."

At least seven police were wounded and up to 132 protesters arrested in a clash near the U.N. Asia-Pacific headquarters, a stone's throw away from the main rally site.

Authorities have deployed 17,000 police at the rally site and the government has invoked the Internal Security Act allowing police to detain protesters and carry out security checks and set up roadblocks.

Police say they have seized various weapons, including knives and bullets, from among the 9,000 gathered at the site.

"We used tear gas because protesters were blocking police and did not comply with the security measures we put in place," police spokesman Piya Uthaya told a local TV station.

Thailand has seen frequent bloody street protests in recent years including a rally that lasted more than two months by supporters of the present government in 2010. Those protests sparked a military crackdown that left at least 91 people dead and more than 1,700 injured.

"At this stage, the government is more a threat to itself. If it overreacts using an army of policemen that's going to enrage demonstrators and things could get out of control," said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political analyst at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

"The use of tear gas is a bad omen and conjures images of the 2008 anti-government protesters who forced their way into government house and parliament."

The protest highlights tensions that have been simmering since Yingluck's Puea Thai party swept to victory in July 2011.

Protesters held signs with pictures of Yingluck including one bearing the caption "PM=Puppet Moron" as others waved yellow flags associated with the royal family.

"I'm telling Thaksin that if he wants to return to Thailand, he needs to bow before the king and serve his prison sentence," Boonlert told the demonstrators.

Thailand has seen a series of political protests since 2006 with pro-Thaksin and anti-Thaksin groups taking turns to challenge various administrations' right to rule.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn