Crowd control police against a protest on 13 March 2021

24 crowd control police suffer diarrhoea on the day 2 leading activists are released

Crowd control police may look more formidable than ever as the Royal Thai Police has just spent 350 million baht on crowd control equipment. But their fate remains unsettled as 24 of them experienced unusual diarrhoea on 11 May when Parit Chiwarak and Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan were released.

Tuesday 11 May 2021 was a good day for Parit Chiwarak and Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan, two leading political activists accused of violating the lèse majesté law as they were released on bail after numerous requests. But it was not a good day for 24 crowd control policemen who has been securing Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court as they experienced diarrhoea at the end of the day.

The unfortunate crowd control officers were from Metropolitan Police Division 9 and were drawn from many police stations, including 4 from Thakham, 7 from Phasi Charoen, 3 from Samaedam, 4 from Nongkhaem, 3 from Nong Phlu, and 1 from Laksong.

The 23 out of 24 had only mild symptom and could recovery at home. But Pol Sgt Raphiphat Siriwet suffered both diarrheoa and vomiting and was treated at Bangpakok 8 Hospital before returning home.

Khaosod said that the matter has been reported to superior officers for further investigation.

The 24 crowd control police were deployed on 11 May 2021 at the Criminal Court, Ratchadaphisek Roadwhen the court allowed bail for Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak and Chaiamorn ‘Ammy’ Kaewwiboonpan, two leading pro-democracy activists.

Parit had been detained for 91 days and Chaiamorn for 69 days. Requests for Parit’s release had been denied 9 times before he was eventually allowed bail.

As he had been on hunger strike for more than 50 days, Parit’s detention was increasingly worrying. A number of public figures announced hunger strikes in solidarity with Parit in front of the Criminal Court, including Samana Daodin and Lertsak Kamkongsak.

Razor wire, fences and barricades were erected in front of the Criminal Court to obstruct the hunger strikers. Samana Daodin was arrested and fined 9,000 twice for illegally dressing like monk because his version of Buddhism deviates from Thai state-controlled Buddhism.

When Parit’s 9th bail request was rejected on 29 April, student activists and protesters gathered and threw papers carrying 11,035 signatures calling for the activists’ release in front of the Criminal Court Building.

To protest against detention, Free Youth, under the campaign Restart Democracy (REDEM), also held a motorcade on 2 May, starting from the Victory Monument to the Ratchadaphisek Criminal Court. The protesters threw tomatoes and paint at the signs of the Criminal Court.

The event was followed by a clash with police. After REDEM announced the end of the event, a group of protesters was still in the mood to continue. Crowd control police were deployed along with water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas.   

Activists participating in the protests on 29 April and 2 May have been charged with contempt of court and threatening government officials.  Those charged include Benja Apan, Natchanon Phairot, Phattaraphong Noiphang, Chinnawat Chankrachang, Pisitakun Kuantalang, and Elia Fofi.

As tensions surrounding the detained activists increased, the authorities tightened the security measures around the Criminal Court. The crowd control police have been deployed at the Criminal Court every time since 29 April that the Court has made a decision on a bail request.

On 6 May when the decision on Parit’s release was delayed, fences, razor wire and water cannon were deployed to secure the area. On 12 May, the security measures were just as defensive. Only people directly involved in the court case were allowed to enter the area after ID checks.

Despite the crowd control officers’ diarrheoa on 11 May, Thailand recently saw an increase in the budget for crowd control equipment. According to announcements of the Ordnance Division, the Royal Thai Police will spend 353 million baht for crowd control equipment on the procurement plan this year as detailed below. The budget was slightly more than last year’s 316 million baht.

Description

Quantity

Amount (baht)

  1. Elbow guards

16,620 pairs

26,508,900

  1. Shin and knee gaiters

16,620 pairs

45,705,000

  1. Leather gloves

12,384 pairs

6,501,600

  1. Anti-riot helmets

15,781

59,257,655

  1. Transparent shields

18,534

59,957,490

  1. Rubber batons

16,620

17,451,000

  1. Protective clothing

16,620

54,098,100

  1. Cable ties

103,726

3,837,862

  1. Rubber bullets for rifles

95,400

8,490,600

  1. Tear gas for mixing with water

5,000 litres

22,350,000

  1. Rolls of razor wire

1,000

2,664,000

  1. Security operation vehicles

5

87,950,000

Total

353,637,707 baht

While Thailand saw an increase in budget for crowd control equipment, the well-being of Thai crowd control police remains in question. In November last year, crowd control police expressed their grievances online when they did not get the daily allowance for their field operation.  

In a separate case, the Inspector-General of the Royal Thai Police admitted in October last year that there was a corruption scandal in the daily allowance payments during the outbreak of Covid-19 worth 2,521 million baht. In January this year, the Inspector-General revealed that 189 officers in 23 provinces, 5 of them police generals, were involved in the scandal. They have been prosecuted or disciplined accordingly.

 

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