Pattaya Daily News

17 July 2009 :: 17:07:17 pm 35922

PM: Protest in Chiang Mai Could Tarnish Tourism Image

BANGKOK, July 17 A group of armed Red Shirt protesters attempting to force the release of a protest movement leader at a Chiang Mai police station early Friday led the authorities to fire on several hundred attackers with water cannon, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajiva said Friday, warning that such incidents can seriously damage Thailand?s already badly-wounded tourist industry.
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The protest outside the northern province’s Phu Ping police station was not freedom of expression of political opinion as commonly understood and permitted under the democratic system, Mr. Abhisit said, because the demonstrators were armed, attacked and injured a number of police officers.

They used weapons, the prime minister explained, warning that such an incident could terminally tarnish the image of Chiang Mai for prospective tourists.

Prime Minister Abhisit thanked the police for keeping the situation under control and maintaining order.

The police used water cannon to disperse about 200 protesters who surrounded the Phu Ping police station after midnight early Friday morning.

The authorities asked the protesters to disperse before taking action firm action, to force the Red Shirt demonstrators to disperse.

Angry United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) protesters gathered outside the police station after Niyom Luangcharoen, a UDD Chiang Mai leader, was arrested for carrying a gun and ammunition at Chiang Mai Airport after the police searched his van and found the weapon.

Niyom was sent to jail for temporary detention at Chiang Mai provincial court. Red Shirt activists are preparing documents to seek bail. In addition to the injured police personnel, the initial damage assessment showed that five police vehicles were damaged.

Pol.Lt-Gen. Somkid Boonthanom, Region 5 Commissioner of Provincial Police, said the state security response was exercised with the utmost restraint, but the demonstrators protest was not peaceful, and attempted to force the police to release Mr. Niyom unconditionally.

The UDD Red Shirt protesters clashed with the police, attacking with wooden planks and slingshots, wounding 13 police officers, leading to the police’s decision to disperse the crowd forceably with water cannon. (TNA)

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Thailand News

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