Thailand: Government turns tough on PAD protesters
|Publisher||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)|
|Publication Date||7 October 2008|
|Cite as||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Thailand: Government turns tough on PAD protesters, 7 October 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48ef0a155.html [accessed 31 August 2014]|
BANGKOK, 7 October 2008 (IRIN) - An estimated 1,500 police mobilised to disperse demonstrators of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) on 7 October, firing tear gas at the protesters, who had laid siege to the Parliament since 6 October.
The PAD is now in its fourth month of protests against a government it believes to have been fraudulently elected, and has occupied a series of sites, including Government House, and now the Parliament.
The anti-government crowd under the PAD swelled to thousands after the incident. They brought in a mobile stage, food and medical help and camped opposite the main gate to Parliament, close to the zoo.
The intention of the PAD supporters was to block Parliament and Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat from meeting and formally authorising the new government.
However Somchai, brother-in-law of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was appointed premier in mid-September, managed to arrive at Parliament and delivered a policy speech, despite a boycott by the opposition over police handling of the protesters.
The Public Health Ministry reported an estimated 162 injured, four seriously, after being hit by tear gas canisters. At least two protesters lost limbs and one woman in her 50s had eye and leg injuries. The injured were sent to several hospitals close to the Parliament.
The situation deteriorated in the afternoon. At around 4pm, a bomb exploded in a jeep parked in front of the headquarters of the Chart Thai Party near Parliament. The blast killed a man whose name is still unknown and tore apart the vehicle, which was believed to belong to an anti-government protester.
At 5pm, the police fired more tear gas at PAD protesters in front of Parliament in a bid to disperse them and clear the way for members of parliament and senators to leave the compound as they were trapped inside.
Several senators have called for the government to resign as they held it responsible for using violence against non-violent protesters.
Somchai declined to answer reporters' questions on the issue of the injured protesters, despite holding a brief conference after escaping from Parliament.