Anger swells at police brutality after cops attack protesters in Bangkok

A riot cop takes aim at close range to a civilian Sunday in an image broadcast by Voice TV, at left. A woman wounded by a gunshot wound from a nonlethal round to the head on the same day, at right.
A riot cop takes aim at close range to a civilian Sunday in an image broadcast by Voice TV, at left. A woman wounded by a gunshot wound from a nonlethal round to the head on the same day, at right.

An angry response and calls for the authorities to use nonlethal force responsibly continued today after officers attacked protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas to forcibly disperse them.

Accusations of police brutality ricocheted online after a peaceful Sunday rally calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha over his pandemic response ended in scenes of violence and injury instigated by state security forces.

“We’re just here to seek the quality of life that people deserve because they pay taxes according to the law, but why are you hurting people who don’t fight back like this? The military police are supposed to serve the people, who are you serving now!?” Twitter user Meloroes wrote.

Sunday’s rallies began as a so-called car mob at several locations and ended with police and paramilitary security forces using violence to clear the streets.

Under the worsening pandemic, the car rallies, first organized by longtime pro-democracy figure Sombat Booongamanong, took place at Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road, Ramintra Road, MRT Phra Nang Klao Bridge and downtown at Ratchaprasong Intersection.

After protest leaders announced the rallies’ conclusion in the late afternoon, some protesters remained at the Vibhavadi Road site. Royal Thai Police spokesperson Col. Kritsana Pattanacharoen said the demonstrators violated the emergency decree and public health measures banning gatherings of more than five people, requiring the deployment of riot police to “control” the crowd.

Images of a civilian lying wounded with an apparent rubber bullet gunshot wound to the head spread online to provoke condemnations of the police. 

Media associations and rights groups have called on the police to follow U.N. rules of engagement on the use of nonlethal force, including a prohibition on targeting the head, face or neck with rubber bullets.

The next protest is scheduled for Saturday at a location to be announced prior to the rally. Lawyer-activist Arnon Nampa warned demonstrators to be “well-prepared.”

“Be more well-prepared with protective gear to protect against tear gas such as respirators and saline,” he wrote online. 

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CITY: BANGKOKCATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: CRIME, POLITICS

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