Army chief justifies troop presence at protest site on Sunday


Army chief General Narongpan Jitkaewthae said on Monday that the troops had nothing to do with the crackdown on protesters, who were hit by high-pressure water as they tried to break through the police barricade to deliver letters to the King.

He said that even though the protesters have been breaking the law by holding protests without permission, the authorities have been making compromises and only arresting people on a case by case basis.

“I’m in charge of ensuring national security. On Sunday, the crowds were moving towards the Grand Palace, the City Pillar Shrine and the Emerald Buddha Temple – all sacred places. So, will anyone take responsibility if anything happens?” the general asked.

He said he has always instructed security officials to control the situation in a non-violent manner, adding that soldiers are always ready to help the police and injured people.

“If the police let protesters in, people with bad intentions can also enter because protest leaders do not screen participants. As for the footage of what looks like a firecracker being thrown at a bus [used to block protesters]. I ask what happens if these ill-intentioned people set fire to the Emerald Buddha Temple or the City Pillar Shrine? Who will take responsibility? What will other people in the country say?” the general asked.

Meanwhile, Piyarat Chongthep, chief protest guard, admitted on Facebook that the firecracker was intended to create a blanket of smoke to hide the protesters from riot police. He said protesters in other countries do this too.