Thousands of Thais took to the streets of Bangkok in cars and motorcycles on Tuesday (10) to protest against the country’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. The convoy stopped outside several buildings attached to the offices of the president and supporters to demand resignations, accusing the government of mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic and abuse of power to silence critics.
“The government does not have the skills to run the country and only sees the interests of the elite,” said Benja Apan, a student activist, in a statement read from the top of a sound truck in the neighborhood. business of the Thai capital. “If the situation remains that way, we can expect the country to face an unbearable catastrophe.”
Hospitals across the country have been pushed to their limits by the latest wave of coronavirus, with a new death record on Tuesday – there were 235, nearly four times as many as on any day of the year last. The total since the start of the health crisis exceeds 6,000.
Tuesday’s protests ended with a clash between protesters and police, who used tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets to disperse people in the streets. At least six police officers were injured – one was shot in the leg and three others were hit by shrapnel from a homemade bomb.
It remains to be seen how many activists were injured, but at least six were arrested, according to police, who previously warned that all public meetings were considered illegal under emergency restrictions enacted under Covid-19. Two police cabins were also set on fire, while sporadic acts of violence continued into the night.
The youth-led movement appears to have found new life after a strong crackdown on protests that drew hundreds of thousands of people last year temporarily halted actions. Activists have further broken taboos by calling for reform of the monarchy, risking prosecution under the Law of Majesty which makes defamation of the king, queen, heir or regent a crime punishable by a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
Last weekend thousands of people also took to the streets to protest against the government and, just like Tuesday, clashed with police.