Thai police on Sunday used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse hundreds of anti-government protesters who held a rally in Bangkok, despite COVID-19 restrictions banning gatherings of more than five people.
The demonstrators demanded that Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s government step down, and the budget of the monarchy and the military be cut during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also called for the importation of messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccines that have yet to be brought to Thailand on a large scale.
The rally came as Thailand recorded its largest single-day jump in COVID-19 infections — nearly 11,400 — and as fresh restrictions were announced, such as the shutdown of most domestic flights.
Many parts of the country, including Bangkok, are already under some form of lockdown, including restrictions on gatherings and business operations, as well as a nighttime curfew.
As infections and deaths climb and as more people face economic suffering, disapproval of the government’s handling of the pandemic has grown.
Criticism of Prayuth’s government for failing to secure early and adequate vaccine supplies is widespread. Thailand mostly relies on two vaccines, including China’s Sinovac shot, which some studies indicate is less effective against the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, which is wrecking havoc across Southeast Asia.
Thailand’s other main vaccine is AstraZeneca, which a Thai company owned by the country’s king has been producing, but in smaller than expected quantities.
Sunday’s rally was led by Free Youth, a student protest group that drew tens of thousands to its protests last year, when it demanded that Prayuth’s government step down, the constitution be amended to make it more democratic and the nation’s monarchy become more accountable.
Jutatip Sirikhan, one of Free Youth’s main activists, said that many people have died from COVID-19 because of a lack of transparency and mismanagement of Prayuth and his Cabinet.
Thailand has recorded 403,386 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3,341 deaths since the pandemic started. More than 90 percent of cases and deaths have occurred since April. This weekend, daily virus deaths rose above 100 for the first time.
“If we don’t come out now, we don’t know how long we shall survive and whether we will have a chance to do it again,” she said of the virus and the protests.
About 1,500 riot police were deployed, along with water cannon trucks. Deputy National Police spokesman Kissana Pattanacharoen acknowledged that the authorities used water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters after several warnings.
Reports of injuries were not complete, but the city’s Erawan Medical Center emergency services said two people were sent to the hospital from the protests, which the organizers ended before nightfall.
Twice a day Hong Kong’s virtually deserted airport fills with the sound of tearful goodbyes as residents fearful for their future under China’s increasingly authoritarian rule start a new life overseas, mostly in Britain. London flights tend to leave in the afternoon and late evening, and for a few hours it briefly feels like the COVID-19 pandemic no longer exists as the airport comes to life. Check-in desks fill up with crowds of passengers wheeling as much luggage as their tickets will permit. Accompanied by the loved ones they leave behind, the scenes are emotionally charged and shadowed by a palpable pall of
A man has confessed to defrauding Chinese-Canadian pop singer Kris Wu (吳亦凡) over a teenager’s accusation that he had sex with her when she was drunk, Beijing police said on Thursday. The announcement added a bizarre twist to a scandal that cost Wu endorsement contracts with brands including Porsche and Bulgari. The former member of South Korean boy band EXO has denied the accusation, which drew an outpouring of online support for the woman and criticism of Wu. On Friday, Louis Vuitton became the latest brand to end its contract with Wu. A man who saw rumors about the incident online contacted the woman
Ethiopia’s Afar region on Friday called on civilians to take up arms against rebels from neighboring Tigray, signaling a potential escalation in fighting that has already displaced tens of thousands this week. “Every Afar should protect their land with any means available, whether by guns, sticks or stones,” regional President Awol Arba said in an interview aired by regional state media. “No weapons can make us kneel down. We will win this war with our strong determination.” Tigrayan rebels launched operations in Afar last weekend, saying they were targeting pro-government troops massing along the two regions’ shared border. A government official said on
Buried in a long US indictment accusing China of a global cyberespionage campaign was a curious detail: Among the governments targeted by Chinese hackers was Cambodia, one of Beijing’s most loyal Asian allies. The target of the hack, which two sources with knowledge of the indictment said was the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was also revealing: discussions between China and Cambodia over the use of the Mekong River, a new battleground for US and Chinese influence in Southeast Asia. Four Chinese — three security officials and a contract hacker — have been charged for attacks aimed at dozens