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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy