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Containers piled outside barracks to block protesters

Containers are piled on inside lanes of Vibhavadi Rangsit Road outside the 1st Infantry Regiment in Bangkok to impede a rally against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Sunday. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
Containers are piled on inside lanes of Vibhavadi Rangsit Road outside the 1st Infantry Regiment in Bangkok to impede a rally against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Sunday. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

Police have piled shipping containers outside the 1st Infantry Regiment in Bangkok to block pro-democracy protesters from approaching the barracks on Sunday in their latest rally against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The containers were laid out on the inside traffic lanes of Vibhavadi Rangsit Road where it passes the military compound ahead of a protest march from Victory Monument.

The demonstrators, led by the Free Youth group, are targeting the prime minister’s residence inside the barracks to air their discontent over double standards in the judiciary system after four leading activists were denied bail by the Court of Appeal on Saturday.

Protest leaders cried foul after seeing protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban and seven other key members of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee — the group that organised sometimes violent demonstrations that helped overthrow the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014 — walk out of Bangkok Remand Prison on bail on Friday after they were sentenced on multiple charges, including terrorism and insurrection.  

Four protest leaders — Parit Chiwarak, Anon Nampa, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk and Patiwat Saraiyaem — have been detained since Feb 9 on lese majeste and other charges.

Barbed wire forms a barricade on a pedestrian bridge over Vibhavadi Rangsit Road outside the 1st Infantry Regiment in Bangkok on Sunday. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

The Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) had earlier planned to deploy only 600 personnel at the rally, but that number has since swelled to about 2,000.

MPB deputy commissioner Tawichai said on Sunday police decided to install containers to prevent the marchers from entering the army camp, which is a unit of the King’s Guard, and to fend off possible violence.

The containers are blocking traffic on the inside lanes of the road and Pol Maj Gen Piya said the protesters would not be allowed to occupy other lanes open to traffic.

Protesters started converging at Victory Monument before marching to the barracks, which is about three kilometres away.

Pro-democracy protesters converge at Victory Monument before marching to the 1st Infantry Regiment in Bangkok on Sunday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

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