11 July 2024

Police have taken 20 people into custody following clashes between anti-government protesters and anti-riot police Saturday night in areas around Sanam Luang, one of Bangkok’s best known landmarks, which saw at least 32 people injured.

The clashes erupted after police used water cannons, tear-gas and rubber bullets against hundreds of demonstrators who had tried to break through a barricade of cargo containers.   The Erawan emergency center reported that among the injured are 20 protesters and 12 policemen.

Speaking at a press briefing this morning, Deputy metropolitan police commander Pol Maj Gen Piya Tavichai justified the police’s use of force against the protesters who he said had hurled projectiles at the security units and started to destroy public property.  He said the protesters also tried to breach the restricted areas which are adjacent to the Royal Grand Palace.

The demonstrators, protesting in the name of “Redem” group to demand political reforms, were violating the emergency decree which prohibits public gatherings, he said. The country has been under the state of emergency since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic last year.

He said 20 people are being held for allegedly breaching the emergency decree, the law on disease control.  He said police are also weighing lese majeste charges against some of them.

While Pol Maj Gen Piya insisted that the police’s response to the situation was proportionate, the demonstrators claimed that excessive force was used against them.

Meanwhile, six media organizations this morning issued a joint statement voicing their concern at the current situation and calling on all sides to exercise restraint and to refrain from using all forms of violence.   A number of journalists were injured during last night’s clashes.