Thai protesters take to streets in new show of defiance

The demonstrations have become more openly critical of King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s monarchy, breaking a longstanding taboo. (AFP)
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Updated 18 October 2020

Thai protesters take to streets in new show of defiance

  • Demonstrations have persisted despite the arrest of dozens of protesters and their leaders

BANGKOK: Hundreds of Thai anti-government protesters demonstrated in Bangkok on Sunday, again defying a ban on protests against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and the powerful monarchy.
Demonstrations have persisted despite the arrest of dozens of protesters and their leaders, the use of water cannon and shutdowns on much of Bangkok’s metro rail system in a bid to quell over three months of street action.
Protesters moved quickly from point to point, posting different sites for possible demonstrations on social media.
“We will stay until it’s over or move to another location with other activists,” said Dee, 25, one of several dozen protesters at Asok, one of the busiest interchanges in Bangkok. Hundreds gathered at the Victory Monument, nearly 5km away by road.
Protesters at Asok put up handwritten up notices on the shuttered station that read “Does licking the boots of the dictator taste good?” and other using coarser language.
A few police gathered on the other side of the interchange but did not immediately intervene.
“We are committed to maintain peace and order. In order to do so we are bound by laws, international standards, human rights.” police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen told a news conference.
Protesters say Prayuth engineered last year’s election to keep power he seized in a 2014 coup – an accusation he denies.
The demonstrations have also become more openly critical of King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s monarchy, breaking a longstanding taboo, demanding curbs to its powers despite potential jail terms of up 15 years for anyone insulting the king.
The Royal Palace has made no comment on the protests but the king has said Thailand needed people who love the country and the monarchy.
The government banned demonstrations in Bangkok on Thursday.
During demonstrations by tens of thousands of people at multiple points across Bangkok on Saturday, protesters painted a flag on the road with “Republic of Thailand” written across it. The writing was painted out overnight.
Across Thailand, demonstrations were being organized in at least 19 other provinces in solidarity on Sunday. Solidarity protests were also being held or planned in Taiwan, Denmark, Sweden, France, the United States and Canada.


Man who spoke to Manchester bomber was ignored by security, inquiry hears

Updated 9 min 59 sec ago

Man who spoke to Manchester bomber was ignored by security, inquiry hears

  • Christopher Wild said he accosted Salman Abedi before he committed fatal terror attack
  • Salman Abedi would later detonate an explosive device inside Manchester Arena, killing 22 people

LONDON: A parent who spoke to a man he suspected was a terrorist at a music venue in the UK, before a fatal attack was carried out, has said his concerns were ignored by security.

Christopher Wild was at the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017, to pick up his 14-year-old daughter and her friend after attending an Ariana Grande concert when he saw a man who he thought could “let a bomb off” with a rucksack hiding on a mezzanine.

The man, Salman Abedi, would later detonate an explosive device inside the arena, killing 22 people.

Wild was speaking at a public inquiry into the attack, which is taking evidence on events in the build up and aftermath of the tragedy.

He said he was waiting with his partner Julie Whitley and said: “I just thought he could be very dangerous.”

He said he had spotted Abedi with a rucksack, and his partner had said to him: “It’s a kids’ concert. Why should he be sat there with a massive rucksack out of sight of everyone? It’s just very strange.”

Wild added: “I started to think about things that happened in the world and I just thought he could be very dangerous.”

He said he addressed Abedi despite feeling “a bit bad” for thinking he might be a terrorist. Wild said he asked him: “It doesn’t look very good you know, what you see with bombs and such, you with a rucksack in a place like this. What are you doing?”

He said Abedi responded: “I’m waiting for somebody mate. Have you got the time? What time is it?”

Wild added that he then approached Mohammed Agha, an event steward at the venue who was in the foyer below the mezzanine.

“He (Agha) said he already knew about him. That was about it really,” Wild said. “It was as if he had more important things to deal with — but in no way do I blame him because the guy was already in there. There was nothing more he could do.”

Whitley was badly injured in the explosion. She told the inquiry that Abedi’s rucksack had caught her eye because it was “massive,” and she believed he might have been a “dodgy merchandiser.”