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Protests in Bangkok | Lawsuit filed against Royal Thai Police

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  • Protests in Bangkok | Lawsuit filed against Royal Thai Police

    Aggressive Protests in Bangkok | Lawsuit against Royal Thai Police

    Tensions flared at today’s anti-government protests, as demonstrators had to re-route 3 times due to police pushback efforts. The original plan was to meet at the Democracy Monument at 2 pm today and march to the Grand Palace, as pro-monarchy groups called for the army to step inand fortify the historic complex they called a sacred site. But police were ready and firm, meeting protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons to drive them back. Restart Democracy, or Redem, the collection of pro-democracy groups brought together by the Free Youth movement, were set to gather, with a few hundred protesters arriving 2 hours early at noon to Democracy Monument before police closed off the area 20 minutes later and told the crowds to disperse.

    At the other end of their planned march, the Grand Palace had a defence perimeter set up using shipping containers and tanker train cars supplied by the State Railway of Thailand. Police were reported to fire rubber bullets into people gathered there around 1 pm in order to clear the crowd away. Journalists just filed a lawsuit against the Royal Thai Police over their use of rubber bullets against protesters and the press. At least 2 arrests were made at that site.

    Police pushed the line of frustrated protesters away from the original path to the Phan Fa Bridge where angry demonstrators used catapults and firecrackers to fight back against the police force. Free Youth decided to reroute after being prevented from their original path, and announced on Facebook they were meet at Government House instead. But shipping container walls were already in place there preventing the demonstration to continue. Then a truck with mounted loudspeakers announced a venue change, directing protesters to move to Victory Monument and prepare to march to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s residence at the 11th Infantry Regiment. As they began their third attempt at a march, proactive police already had stacked shipping containers and barbed wire along the path to the prime minister and had barriers holding lines of crowd control police as police pushed them back towards Victory Monument.

    The situation began to worsen by 3:30 pm as agitated protesters tried to move shipping containers and were met with tear gas canisters launched into the crowd at Din Daeng intersection. Police threatened rubber bullets if protesters didn’t retreat and demonstrators set fire to a police van. at 5:30 pm police made a final strong push to move crowds all the way back to the Victory Monument, using a water cannon, tear gas, and rubber bullets with police lining the skywalk over the area to fire down upon the crowd.

    Free Youth made the call to end the rally officially at 5:30 pm but many protesters remained and clashed with police later into the night. The ramped-up demonstrations come as the protesters’ cause gains traction with mounting frustration from more of the public about the government’s handling of Covid-19. They called for 3 goals in today’s protest – the immediate resignation of PM Prayut, a budget cut for the monarchy and military to fund Covid-19 release, and a call to move Thailand’s vaccination plans to mRNA vaccines.

    Developing Story

    Lawsuit against Royal Thai Police filed by injured press members

    After getting shot with rubber bullets while covering the tumultuous protests on July 18, 2 members of the press have filed a lawsuit against the Royal Thai Police for the injuries. A reporter for Plus Seven and a photographer from The Matter filed the lawsuit yesterday with the Civil Court, naming the Royal Thai Police, along with the Commissioner, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and the Commander of the Protection and Crowds Control Division.

    One journalist was shot in the hip with a rubber bullet at the Phan Fa Lilat intersection just before 4 pm while the other was shot with a rubber bullet in his left arm while opposite the Rachawinit School. They both stated they were clearly marked as journalists, wearing press armbands given by the Thai Journalists Association. They said there was no advance warning before police began to fire indiscriminately at the peaceful crowd and they believe the press was an intentional target.

    They claim authorities used intentional excessive force to end the protest, calling it an unlawful dispersal. The Thai Constitution and international law both protect reporters and the police’s overuse of rubber bullets and other forceful tactics that resulted in injury to the 2 members of the press constitute a violation of press freedom according to the Human Rights Lawyers Alliance.

    If the harm is determined to be intentional, it could also be considered an attempt at intimidating the press to prevent them from reporting upsetting factual information. That violates the Thai Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The lawsuit calls for compensation from the police for the injuries and court costs to the tune of 1.4 million baht as well as a formal public apology and a pledge to never use force against the press again. They also demand police be instructed on following international human rights rules on non-lethal weapons and call for the identification of the officers who shot rubber bullets at the press.

    The court dismissed the charges against the individual officers named as the Act on Liability on Wrongful Act of Officials essentially gives the officers qualified immunity, but they accepted the lawsuit against the Royal Thai Police as a whole. They also denied an additional request for an injunction against police using force against the press or in dispersing a crowd, stating that it was not an emergency since it was only a hypothetical future occurrence.

    Last edited by Logan; 08-07-2021, 11:09 PM.

  • #2
    Press lawsuit to stop police from using rubber bullets rejected

    After being injured by rubber bullets police fired at protesters despite being clearly marked as members of the press, a journalist with Plus Seven and a photographer from The Matter filed a lawsuit against the police. Now the Civil Court has responded, throwing out their petition to stop police from using rubber bullets as part of crowd control during protests. When they filed suit on August 06.2021, the courts immediately dismissed charges against individual officers who are protected under a qualified immunity style law and denied an injunction against police using any force in protests. But they did allow the lawsuit against the Royal Thai Police to proceed where they requested 1.4 million baht, a formal apology, a pledge for no violence against the press, and for those who shot rubber bullets at press members to be identified.

    In their lawsuit, the 2 media members said that they were hit and injured by rubber bullets in 2 separate incidents during protests on July 18.2021 in Bangkok. There was some insinuation that police may have intentionally fired at press members, which could be viewed as an act of intimidation aimed at silencing a free press.

    Yesterday saw more protests that are becoming increasingly impatient and aggressive. Protesters moved from Ratchaprasong intersection to Asok and made their way to Sino-Thai Engineering and Constriction, a company owned by the family of Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. They accuse the company of financially supporting the government.

    The roaming protest continued on to the residence of the controversial secretary-general of the Palang Pracharath Party Thamanat Prompow, who recently denied suggestions that he is prepping to become Thailand’s next prime minister. From there, protesters headed towards the King Power Group offices but clashed with police at a roadblock leading to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s residence. During that clash and others later in the evening, some violence broke out, with fireworks thrown at officers, and a police kiosk being set on fire. Tempers were strong as bail has been denied to 9 important leaders in the pro-democracy movement including former hunger-striker Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak.