Monk-led rally in Thailand hit with water cannon, tear gas

Monk-led rally in Thailand hit with water cannon, tear gas

Police fired tear gas and sprayed a water cannon at monk Phra Buddha Issara, a leader of the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), and his followers yesterday after they tried to trespass into the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO).

The monk, in response, vowed to file three complaints at Thung Song Hong police station today against officers for attempted murder, violating his constitutional rights to freedom of assembly, and "unjustly" carrying out their duty.

The incident occurred after Phra Buddha Issara led a group of PDRC protesters on 10 buses with a loudspeaker to block the entrance of CAPO at the Royal Thai Police Club.

He demanded that police come out to accept a lese-majeste complaint he sought to file against an unknown person who fired an M79 grenade at Chulabhorn Research Institute Hospital this week, plus a complaint to police about former caretaker prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra for her alleged mishandling of the rice-pledging scheme.

Pol Maj-General Pakphoom Satchaphan, deputy commander of the Office for Police Strategy, emerged from CAPO to meet the monk but did not accept the complaints, as he said he would have to consult with his superiors about this first.

The monk then declared that he and his followers would stay there until the complaints were accepted.

After nearly an hour and no response, Phra Buddha Issara, accompanied by security guards and two other monks, plus some reporters, removed barbed wire and unlocked the gate, while a loud warning was issued by CAPO that they were breaking the law.

A water cannon was then aimed at the monk, followed by volleys of tear-gas canisters, which caused protesters to seek refuge. One protester suffered a cut on his head and a number were given first aid.

Don Muang Tollway was shut down during the incident but the group eventually retreated after they learned that a group of red shirts were heading towards their protest venue at Chaeng Wattana Road to try to demolish the camp.

Police later visited the monk, who said he would drop the complaints if those involved apologised to him in person.

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