Thailand deputy prime minister warns protesters of tough action


Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the Red Shirt demonstrators have the right to peaceful assembly under Section 63 of the country’s constitution, “But if they intrude into private establishments or government installations they will face a crackdown.”

Mr. Suthep gave the warning after attending a meeting of members of the peace-keeping center for implementation of the Internal Security Act, which is in effect from today until March 23. He promised that tough action will be taken against law breakers during the protests, particularly people who intrude into private premises and important government installations, now that the International Security Act (ISA) is in effect

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“They will first receive a warning that they have violated the law. If they ignore the order, they will face tough action, which could be water cannons and tear gas,” Mr. Suthep said.

Mr. Suthep said locally-assembled farm trucks would definitely not be allowed into Bangkok and other areas under the jurisdiction of the ISA. People who arrive in pick-up trucks would have to leave their vehicles at provided parking areas. Vehicles brought into restricted areas would be towed away if they obstruct traffic.

Starting Wednesday night, a total of 50,000 soldiers, police, civilians, and volunters had been deployed for peace-keeping operations. They are not equipped with weapons, but have protective gear. Members of the peace-keeping forces have a clear authentication tag, he said.

Only a few companies of special forces for special missions were armed he said.

He said the authorities would use weapons against those who intrude into military and police installations where weapons are kept, because they would be regarded as terrorists with the intent to steal.

The general public is also prohibited from carrying weapons outside their residences. If found with weapons, they would be subject to legal action.

Since the security of Their Majesties the King and Queen was of utmost concern, the peace-keeping center was duty-bound to take every measure possible to ensure their safety, Mr. Suthep said.

Therefore, all routes, by land or water, leading to Siriraj Hospital were definitely off-limits to protesters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).

The peace-keeping center director said drastic action would be taken against those who blockade roads, train stations, or airports.

Mr. Suthep said the peace-keeping center is located inside the compound of the 11th Infantry Regiment, so is a safe house where he and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will stay during the rally.