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'Tear Gas Fired' as Rubber Protesters Block Bangkok to Phuket Highway

Thursday, September 5, 2013
UPDATING All Day, Every Day

TEAR GAS is being fired into crowds of protesters as riot police endeavor to clear the highway between Bangkok and Phuket tonight, according to some reports. One person alleged that acid had been thrown.

Original Report

PHUKET: Rubber farmers blocked the main road from Bangkok, leading south to Phuket, Malaysia and Singapore at 6pm tonight amid reports of violence and many people injured.

Both sides of the road were blocked. The action came on the Asia Highway 2 at Bang Saphan, a narrow point on the Isthmus of Kra in the province of Prajuab Kirikhan.

Gunshots were heard, although there was no specific confirmation that anyone had been wounded.

Narong Sapyen, a local police superintendent, told Reuters: ''There was some fighting between protesters and the police and at least one policeman was injured after having acid thrown in his face.

''Some protesters were injured too but we don't know how many.'' Ten protest leaders were arrested, he said.

Riot police have been used to protect airports and roads in areas in Thailand's southern provinces where protesters have gathered to air their grievances over low prices.

Although no action has taken place in tourist areas - Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga are all in rubber-growing regions - there is a general threat to shut down the administrative centres, the Provincial Halls, in the 14 southern provinces.

Thailand's Government has so far failed to offer subsidies to prop up the rubber price. Today Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra backed the appointment of a committee to oversee prices.

Its first mission is to meet with protest leaders at 10am on Friday in Nakhon Si Thammarat. All committee members - including three deputy prime ministers - are scheduled to join the meeting.

Senior figures in the opposition Democrat Party, including former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, have offered the protesters moral support. The southern provinces mostly vote Democrat.

A delegation of police from Phuket are working in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Tourist destinations such as Krabi and Phuket are being impacted, government officials say, because the flow of visitors is being obstructed.

Comments

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Anti-Riot Policemen are they using rubber bullets ot not?

Posted by Whistle-Blower on September 5, 2013 19:45

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@WB:
Probably yes, as rubber is getting cheaper!
(How would the editor know the answer?)

Posted by Pete on September 5, 2013 20:39

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Without a doubt the most valuable target in the south would be Phuket.

Block the bridges and the airport and there's pandemonium.

I'm glad to see the police is taking a hard stance against these blockades so it'll never get that far as it did in 2008 when Phuket airport was seized.

Having said that, the Government is facing an impossible argument trying to reason why way above market prices are ok for rice but not for rubber.

They've opened the Pandora's box.

Posted by ThaiMike on September 5, 2013 21:17

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Does any one know if the road from phuket to koh samui is affected? I am driving there tomorrow and am quite worried abt the ongoing protests..Ed, kindly advise if you have some information..thank you

Posted by Addy on September 5, 2013 21:26

Editor Comment:

North and south appears to be more of a risk than travelling west to east but there's no way of knowing for sure. Buses appear to be rerouting, but with some difficulty. Local knowledge is clearly a help.

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@pete - because apparently Ed is expected to know everything about everything - God help the man

Posted by Ciaran on September 5, 2013 21:30

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@WB, if, then it would be the first demonstration with its participants cheering to police action.

Anyway, with protests on the street, should be the right time to start(!) thinking investing in cheap rubber. Pig cycle.

Posted by Lena on September 5, 2013 21:42

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Are these hardworking people being treated unfair, taking their anger to the streets, ready to die in a fight instead of starving under their rubber tree?

Or..

Do they destroy the nature by creating rubber plantations in monoculture over healthy jungles, let burmese slaves do the work and get rich by selling the rubber way over the real price?

Posted by sam on September 6, 2013 13:29


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