TWO police officers who today (Nov. 9) who testified to the Senate Human Rights, Freedom and Consumer Protection Committee admitted that diluted tear gas was used to break up the demonstration at Pathumwan intersection on October 16, Sanook.com and Prachachart.net reported.
Senator Somchai Sawangkarn presided over this committee’s meeting to follow up on the issues of crowd control processes and procedures as well as the issuing of summons and arrest warrants for protest leaders with the Royal Thai Police representatives.
Pol. Lt. Col. Chavalit Harungsiri told the committee that water cannons were first used to break up the protest because the demonstrators were getting close to the forbidden 150-radius of important places.
This was done in two stages, at the first stage ordinary water was sprayed from top down to the road before an announcement was made that high-pressure sprays could be used. When the protesters continued to disobey instructions and still incited violence, blue water was sprayed on them to identify those who were violating the severe emergency decree.
Finally, when the protest did not end, tear gas was fired against the protesters, Pol. Lt. Col. Chavalit said.
However he explained that the authorities operated in accordance with international principles, legality and circumstances.
He added that tear gas was only fired once and was unlikely to harm the protesters because it was a diluted mixture.
Meanwhile Pol. Maj. Anan Chansri told the senate committee that the measures to handle protesters complied with the Public Assembly Act, B.E. 2558, Cabinet resolution, the police plan on keep public assemblies calm drafted this year and related traffic laws.
Powerful jets of water sprayed at protesters during October 16 rally at Pathumwan intersection. Thai headline says, “necessary to do that.” Photos: AFP and published by Sanook.com