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Police chief defends handling of protests at Pheu Thai headquarters

PHOTO: Thai Rath

Thailand’s national police chief has defended the police officers stationed outside Pheu Thai headquarters during violent protests on Monday, August 7. According to a Nation Thailand report, Damrongsak Kittiprapas spoke out yesterday, following criticism from several figures, including Anutin Charnvirakul, leader of the Bhumjaithai Party.

Bhumjaithai has just entered into coalition with Pheu Thai and both parties were holding a press conference at the latter’s headquarters when skirmishes broke out. Members of the Thalu Wang protest group had rallied outside the building to protest against Pheu Thai’s abandoning of the Move Forward Party.

The activists blocked a Bhumjaithai convey attempting to leave Pheu Thai headquarters, with Pipat Ratchakitprakarn, deputy leader of Bhumjaithai getting out of his vehicle to confront a female protester. Nation Thailand reports that the pair got into a brief verbal dispute, in which the woman swore at him and the minister appeared to be trying to control his anger.

Elsewhere, protesters tried to break through barriers and get into the building, with security guards forming lines to prevent them from entering. Protesters allegedly threw objects, with one reporter accidentally hit by a water bottle.

The subsequent criticism of the protesters has prompted the Move Forward Party to distance themselves from the action, with a number of MPs saying there is no link between MFP and Thalu Wang.

Anutin claims that during the protests, police officers “stood idly by”, a claim refuted by Damrongsak. He says the report he received shows a different version of events and that officers initially allowing the building’s security guards to deal with the matter, as Pheu Thai’s headquarters are on private property.

“The police officers on duty did not stand still. They didn’t expect a violent incident or a blockage of the motorcade.”

Damrongsak blames a lack of cooperation between security guards and the police for the incident, saying police have been told to act immediately in future. He points out that the protesters were mostly young and/or female, and officers could have faced criticism for any action they might have taken against them.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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