Police in Bangkok fired tear gas, rubber bullets and used a water cannon on more than a thousand Restart Democracy anti- government protesters on Saturday. Restart Democracy demonstrators had arranged originally to meet at Democracy Monument with a plan to march to the Grand Palace.
The anti-government protest group has no official leaders but still has guards. Created by the Free Youth group in February, it can consist of different anti-government groups that share common goals at any given time.
The group on Saturday Restart Democracy was looking to push three demands;
1.) Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha must unconditionally resign as prime minister.
2.) the budgets for the palace and armed forces must be cut.
3.) the Covid-19 vaccine must be changed to the mRNA type.
About a hundred police officers in riot gear sealed off a road near Victory Monument in the capital Bangkok with containers and used water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets to stop a march toward Government House, the office of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.
“Tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons were used for crowd control. Our goal is to maintain order,” Krisana Pattanacharoen, a police spokesman, told Reuters.
The demonstrators threw ping pong bombs, stones and marbles, he added.
Dozens of protesters were seen being carried away on motorcycles and in ambulances. The Erawan Emergency Medical Centre said at least two civilians and three officers had been injured.
“We want Prayuth to resign because people aren’t getting vaccines,” said a 23-year-old male protester, who only gave his first name “Aom”, for fear of repercussions.
“We don’t have jobs and income, so we have no choice but protest.”
Some 6% of Thailand’s population of more than 66 million has been fully vaccinated and most of the country including Bangkok is under lockdown with a night-time curfew.
Gatherings of more than five people are currently banned by the Thai Government.
Nonetheless, street protests against the government have been held in recent weeks by several groups, including Prayuth’s former political allies, as frustrations mount over its management of the health crisis.
Thailand reported on Saturday a record of nearly 22,000 new COVID-19 infections in a single day and the highest deaths, 212 fatalities. The country has reported 736,522 total cases and 6,066 deaths from the coronavirus since the pandemic began last year.