Rubber protest turns violent
- Published: 6/09/2013 at 10:18 AM
- Online news:
Clashes broke out between riot police and rubber farmers who tried to block Petchkasem Road in Bang Saphan district of Prachuap Khiri Khan Thursday evening, leaving many injured from acid and ping-pong bomb attacks.
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Riot police form a barricade to prevent protesters from blocking the removal of tyre barricades (Photos courtesy of Samakhom Kon Khao rescue workers network)
Morning update: As of 9am this morning, the situation in Bang Saphan in Prachuap Khiri Khan province was calm but Petchkasem Road was still closed as large numbers of police were on the scene collecting evidence related to the previous night's rioting
The governor of the province told the media that the teenagers involved in the most violent incidents may not have been connected to the protest of falling rubber prices. Alcohol may have been a factor in their unruly behaviour as well.
The teenagers torched vehicles belonging to news teams from Channel 3 and Daily news. A Thai PBS vehicle was also damaged.
Acid, bombs thrown in rubber protest
An injured police officer is treated by medical personnel. At least five farmers and 12 police officers were injured during the protest when acid ping-pong bombs and stones were hurled
PRACHUAP KHIRI KHAN ― Clashes broke out between riot police and rubber farmers who tried to block Petchkasem Road in Bang Saphan district Thursday evening, leaving many injured from acid and ping-pong bomb attacks, including the chief of the provincial police.
The first clash which lasted about 40 minutes, began at 6pm when 1,000 angry protesters tried to close both inbound and outbound lanes of Petchkasem Road, the only major highway to the South, at the 412–413 kilometre markers with 50 tractor and car tyres.
Police appealed to the demonstrators not to block the traffic, telling them it was illegal The farmers ignored the appeal and riot police moved to disperse them.
The clash which involved pushing and jostling, lasted about 40 minutes before the farmers retreated to a side of the road.
Farmers threw acid used in rubber production at the police, injuring many, including Pol Maj Gen Thanet Sunthorasuk, chief of Prachuap Khiri Khan, who sustained abdominal injuries.
Confrontations and chaos continued intermittently into the night, with explosions from giant firecrackers heard occasionally
Teenagers broke from the main crowd of farmers, hurling ping pong bombs and firing objects from slingshots at police. Some reports said five farmers and 12 police were hurt during this stage of the unrest
At least 11 protesters were arrested, including two farm leaders, Chamrong Srithongkorn and Kasem Boonchana. They were charged with hurling giant firecrackers and glass bottles at officers.
At 9pm Thursday, about 3,000 protesters surrounded the police and members of the press Leaders of the group addressed the crowd, condemning authorities for using force against them. They vowed not to disperse until the government sent representatives to talk to them and released their detained leaders.
Meanwhile, the government Thursday set up another committee to try to solve the rubber price standoff
Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had assigned her deputy Pracha Promnok, to head the committee
The panel will today head to Nakhon Si Thammarat to hold talks with the protest leaders.
Mr Kittiratt said the national rubber committee turned down the rubber farmers' proposal for a guaranteed price of 100 baht/kg for rubber sheet and stood firm on the proposed subsidy of 1,260 baht per rai of plantation land.
However, Mr Kittiratt said the cabinet would also be asked to raise the subsidy cap from a maximum of 10 rai to 25 rai per farmer.
The proposal which would require a budget of 10 billion baht, was likely to be submitted for cabinet approval in two weeks, he said.
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- Writer: Terry Fredrickson
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