Sunday, November 29, 2020
Politics

Thai police fire water cannon at anti-government protesters outside Parliament

Thai police fire water cannon at anti-government protesters outside Parliament
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Thai riot police have fired a water cannon at protesters who tried to cut their way through razor wire barricades outside Parliament as possible changes to the constitution were discussed.

Protesters demand changes to the constitution drawn up by Thailand’s former junta.

They also want the removal of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former Army ruler, and reforms to curb the powers of the monarchy.

Police set up barricades outside the Parliament, where hundreds of royalists earlier demonstrated to call on MPs not to change the constitution.

Police sprayed water cannon at protesters who tried to cut their way through razor-wire barricades. Then they fired tear gas at the hundreds of demonstrators.

Protesters threw back coloured smoke bombs at police.

Ambulances ferried the injured to hospital. Bangkok’s Erawan Medical Center said five people were hospitalised due to tear gas and others were treated at the scene.

“This is brutal,” said a 31-year-old volunteer with the FreeYouth protest group who gave his name as Oh.

The group posted pictures of riot police on Twitter with the caption “Dictator’s lackeys!”

Riot police stand in formation as pro-democracy protesters throw smoke bombs near the Parliament.((AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn))

Police declared that protests were banned within 50 metres of the area. Hundreds of protesters assembled nearby.

“Protesters tried to break through the barricades to enter the restricted area,” police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen told reporters.

Thai Parliament to decide on some constitutional change

Members of Parliament were discussing several proposals for the way in which the constitution can be amended — some of which would exclude the possibility of changes to the way King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s monarchy is treated under the constitution.

Thailand is one of the few constitutional monarchies in the world that still enforce lese-majeste laws, which forbids Thais from insulting the monarchy.

Breaches of the law could involve jail terms of between three and 15 years under Thailand’s Criminal Code.

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida wave to supporters holding yellow flags.
Protesters call for the reversal of changes that gave the current King personal control of the royal fortune and some Army units.(AP: Rapeephat Sitichailapa)

MPs are also considering the role of the Senate, which was entirely selected by Prime Minister Prayuth’s former junta and helped ensure that he kept power with a parliamentary majority after a disputed election last year.

Mr Prayuth said the vote was fair.

Opposition parliamentarians have also called for changes to the constitution.

Protests since July initially targeted Mr Prayuth and constitutional change, but have since called for the monarch’s role to be more clearly accountable under the constitution and for the reversal of changes that gave the current king personal control of the royal fortune and some army units.

“Amending the constitution is going to lead to the abolition of the monarchy,” royalist leader Warong Dechgitvigrom said at the demonstration.

Protesters have said they do not intend to abolish the monarchy.

ABC/Reuters



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