Opinion: Police showed true colours in ugly clashes outside parliament

On Tuesday, clashes between pro-democracy protesters and police continued from mid-afternoon well into the evening. The protesters had marched to parliament to pressure the government to amend the military-backed constitution. They wanted the removal of the military-appointed senate and a true democratic transition for Thailand.

During these clashes, the police deployed water cannons, batons, barbed-wire, riot-shields, tear gas and threatened the use of rubber bullets.

The protesters had rubber ducks, raincoats, motorcycle helmets, and stones.

But while clashes were going on with police on one side of the street in front of parliament, the pro-democracy demonstrators were attacked and provoked by yellow-shirt royalist demonstrators on the other side.

The royalists had rallied earlier in the day to protect the current constitution from amendment. They say the pro-democracy forces were trying to topple the monarchy and that such notions were unacceptable in Thai society. The leaders of the yellow-shirted people promised that they would be done with their rally by 2pm so they could leave the area and avoid any potential clashes.

It did not happen.

Instead, many stayed behind to taunt, aggravate and eventually assault the pro-democracy protesters. It led to clashes and injuries.

Not only did the police not do anything to stop the violence, at times, there seemed to be a dual-track approach to policing the two groups of rival protesters.

The yellow shirts were allowed to march all the way to parliament to submit a letter to the president of the senate while the pro-democracy demonstrators faced chemicals, tear gas, and barbed wire.

The yellow shirt protesters were not herded and corralled by security forces. They were not blockaded by busses and makeshift-cement walls.

Most damningly, when the yellow shirt mob instigated violence, the police stood their ground tens of meters away and did nothing.

It makes one question the legitimacy of such a force that they would be so blatantly biased and in service of their paymasters.

There is little wonder that the protesters have been leaving behind dog food for the police because to the students, the security forces have been nothing more but lapdogs to the coup-makers.

In choosing to do nothing as royalist mobs continue to escalate an already bad situation, the police have shown their true colours. Can anyone really say they’re surprised?

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