Police condemned for beating volunteer medic

Police condemned for beating volunteer medic

A volunteer medic is seen between police officers as pro-democracy demonstrators protest to demand the release of their leaders near Sanam Luang on Saturday. (Reuters photo)
A volunteer medic is seen between police officers as pro-democracy demonstrators protest to demand the release of their leaders near Sanam Luang on Saturday. (Reuters photo)

Police are under fire for attacking a volunteer medic during a pro-democracy protest on Saturday night that ended with eight demonstrators detained and 20 wounded.

A group representing doctors who work in provincial hospitals issued a statement on Sunday denouncing police for beating a medical volunteer outside the Supreme Court compound near Sanam Luang. The group, the Rural Doctor Society, demanded explanations and legal action against those responsible, saying it was a serious violation of human rights.

The group added that it opposed violence by all parties during rallies.

The #policebeatingmedic hashtag in Thai has topped Twitter trends after a video clip widely circulating online showed officers in full riot gear chasing down a man wearing what appeared to be a yellow volunteer medic vest, with at least one officer beating him with a truncheon as he fell to the ground.

Metropolitan Police Bureau commissioner Pol Lt Gen Pakkapong Pongpetra on Sunday defended officers, saying the man was near the scene of the clash between police and the demonstrators as authorities warned them to end the rally.

The protest calling for the release of the four leaders of the People's Movement started at Democracy Monument before the activists marched to the City Pillar Shrine near Sanam Luang.

Riot police formed a barrier outside the premises of the Supreme Court.

As four protest leaders were allowed by police to enter the shrine to pay homage and seek blessings for the demonstration, some protesters waiting outside clashed with police. Bottles were thrown and smoke filled the air.

The city police chief denied that officers fired tear gas during the scuffle, although tear gas cans were found at the scene.

Protesters briefly clashed with police on Saturday after draping Democracy Monument in red cloth. (Reuters video)

The People's Movement on Sunday issued a statement reiterating its peaceful stance but said protesters had a right to retaliate against violence by authorities, provided that their actions did not pose a danger to others.  

The Erawan Emergency Medical Centre reported 20 people were injured during the rally.

Police said eight demonstrators were arrested on multiple charges, including defiance of the emergency decree.

Another protest has been called for next Saturday.

The political situation was tense after Parit Chiwarak, Arnon Nampa, Patiwat Saraiyaem and Somyot Prueksakasemsuk were detained on Tuesday after the Criminal Court denied them bail. They face royal insult charges.

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