Thai PM rejects calls to quit as protests escalate

Thailand Bangkok protests continue amid government crackdown Miller pkg intl hnk vpx_00025925

Thailand Bangkok protests continue amid government crackdown Miller pkg intl hnk vpx_00025925

Yesterday's rally was broken up by a large contingent of riot police backed by water cannon after at least 1,000 people had gathered.

The government called a state of emergency on Thursday after protesters heckled a royal motorcade - a rare development in a country where royalty are generally held in reverence.

Bangkok is now under the Severe State of Emergency imposed by PM Prayut on Thursday, giving the security officers a broad power to ban gatherings, close down areas, search individuals without warrants, and censor any media coverage deemed to cause unrest.

Police use water cannons, coloured with blue dye to identify people for future arrest, on protesters.

"I will be there too", said 21-year-old Nine, an engineering student.

Protesters dispersed later at night, with one organiser sending out the message, "End of protest".

Surrounded by hundreds of police officers arrayed in phalanxes with many of them in riot gear, the demonstrators chanted calls for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, an ex-army chief who seized power in a coup in 2014, to resign despite a "severe emergency" decree that Prayut had issued earlier in the day prohibiting any gatherings of more than five people.

"Prayuth, get out", the protesters chanted, in reference to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former military ruler they accuse of engineering an election past year to prolong the hold of the army.

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Prachathai, a Thai news website, published footage of one of its reporters - Kitti Pantapak, 24 - being arrested at the protest.

The government cited that as well as the risks to national security and the economy from protests and the danger of spreading coronavirus as reasons for imposing emergency measures. We have to proceed because the situation became violent ... He said his government hoped to withdraw the state of emergency ahead of its normal 30-day duration "if the situation improves quickly".

Mr Prayuth warned people not to violate the emergency measures saying, "Just wait and see ..." "We will continue to protest on October 17", it said, telling people to be ready for the police to use suppression tactics.

He added that the government is preparing several measures to deal with protesters and that the measures would be applied based on the seriousness of the disturbances. Protesters, defying a government ban on gatherings for a second day, pushed back against helmeted police who advanced with batons and riot shields.

Pre-recorded comments from King Vajiralongkorn were broadcast on state television on Friday, with the king still not making any direct comments on the protests.

Yesterday, two activists were arrested under a law covering violence against the queen for their alleged part in the incident. Even if the death penalty is not imposed, the charge can mean life in jail.

Addressing a group of former communists, he said: "All your experience and the things that you've done - you can teach the new generation of your experience. This will be greatly useful", he told them.

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