Thai protesters criticise hospital evacuation
Sat, May 01, 2010

BANGKOK - Leaders of Thailand's "Red Shirt" protests slammed management at a Bangkok hospital Saturday, saying its chaotic evacuation of patients was a ploy to make the anti-government group look bad.

The Reds have faced heavy criticism after about 100 supporters raided Chulalongkorn hospital Thursday evening under the mistaken belief it sheltered security forces preparing a crackdown, following deadly street violence.

The 1,400-bed hospital evacuated most of its patients because of the incident, and Red leaders have apologised profusely.

"The hospital did not hear our apology. They dramatised the evacuation of patients, turning it into a tragedy to paint Red Shirt people as bad," Jatuporn Prompan, one of the group's core leaders, said in news conference.

"We have been made to look like terrorists and very soon the crackdown will begin," he added.

The Reds, who have occupied sections of Bangkok for over a month in their bid to force snap elections, have alleged the hospital was used in an April 22 grenade attack on a pro-government rally that killed one and wounded dozens.

The government said the grenades were fired from inside the Reds camp an accusation the movement has denied.

Tensions are high in Bangkok following the worst political violence in almost two decades which has left 27 people dead and almost 1,000 injured this month in a series of bloody confrontations.

Thailand's Medical Council criticised the storming and asked protesters to respect medical personnel, while police said they would deploy 100 officers to the hospital to ensure neither security forces nor Reds use the grounds.

Many of the Reds come from Thailand's rural poor and urban working classes and seek the return of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and now lives overseas to avoid a jail term for corruption.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva vowed to prosecute those who were involved in the hospital incident.

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