Author Topic: Thailand protester shot dead at farmer rally over rubber prices  (Read 525 times)

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Thailand protester shot dead at farmer rally over rubber prices

BANGKOK--A Thai protester was shot dead and another injured at a rally in the country's south on Sunday, officials said, following demonstrations calling for higher rubber prices.

In a predawn attack, shots were fired at a group of protesters acting as guards at a rally site in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, local governor Viroj Jiravarungsan told AFP.

One man, aged 29, died of his injuries in hospital, while a 25-year-old man was seriously wounded.

It was not known who carried out the attack, but Viroj said there was concern that the incident could be used to “escalate the protest.”

Viroj said police had failed to access the crime scene to recover forensic evidence because a group of around 300 protesters had barred their entry.

“The government clearly ordered that there be no violence used against the protesters,” he said.

Demonstrators, angry about a sharp fall in the price of rubber, have blocked a major road in Nakhon Sri Thammarat as part of protests that began on Aug. 23.

They have called for farmers in other regions of the country to encircle the capital Bangkok with other transportation stoppages in a more widespread demonstration on Sept. 3.

The government has rejected demands that it guarantee a rubber price of 120 baht (US$3.7) per kilo, but has said it has successfully persuaded many in its heartland regions in the north and northeast not to participate.

Thailand has been rocked by several mass protests in recent years, with both allies of the current government — and its ousted figurehead Thaksin Shinawatra — and the opposition taking to the streets.

In 2010 two-month demonstrations by the pro-Thaksin “Red Shirts” drew 100,000 protesters at their peak before being crushed in a military crackdown under a previous government.

More than 90 people, mostly civilians, were killed during the demonstrations and nearly 1,900 were injured in Thailand's worst political bloodshed in decades.

TheChina Post

Gunfire at rubber farmers’ protest in southern Thailand leaves 1 protester dead, 1 wounded

HAT YAI, Thailand — One protester was killed by gunfire and another was seriously wounded Sunday at the site of a blockade in southern Thailand where rubber farmers have been protesting for more than a week against a steep decline in rubber prices.

It was not clear who was behind the shooting, which took place before dawn near a railway crossing the farmers have blocked along with a major road leading to Thailand’s south.
A Portuguese firefighter works to extinguish a wildfire near Caramulo, north Portugal, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013. Portuguese officials said a woman firefighter died in a forest blaze, becoming the fifth fatality among emergency crews in a month as summer wildfires scorch large areas of parched countryside. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

A 29-year-old protester died after being shot in the head and a 25-year-old was wounded by two gunshots in the neck, said police Lt. Anant Panichkul.

Police said they believed the shooting stemmed from a quarrel that broke out among the protesters’ own security guards.

“The information we have shows that every guard is a heavy drinker and all of them have a lot of weapons. They also fight every night,” the police chief of Nakhon Si Thammarat province, Maj. Gen. Ronnapong Saikaew, told The Nation Channel television station.

A second possibility was that “maybe some villagers are not happy with the protest ... and the guards have been harassing people for money, and harassing women,” the police chief said.

He denied rumors circulating among some of the protesters that authorities staged the attack in an effort to scare away the protesters.

Hundreds of rubber farmers have taken part in the protest in the Cha-uat district of Nakhon Si Thammarat, 580 kilometers (360 miles) south of Bangkok.

The farmers are calling for the government to guarantee the price of rubber to help increase their incomes. Rubber prices in Thailand have continually dropped since peaking in 2011 due to weaker demand in a sluggish global economy.

In negotiations in Bangkok last week, representatives of the farmers demanded the government fix a price of 120 baht ($3.70) per kilogram for rubber products, but the agriculture ministry made an offer of 80 baht ($2.50) per kilogram.

Thailand is the world’s top producer and exporter of natural rubber, which is used in products from condoms to car tires. The government already subsidizes rice growers by paying them above-market prices, a scheme that has accumulated losses of at least $4 billion since its inception two years ago and resulted in Thailand losing its spot as world’s No. 1 rice exporter.

The demonstrators have said groups of rubber farmers from other parts of the country will stage separate rallies on Monday.

At the site of Sunday’s shooting, angry protesters blamed the government.

A protest representative, Iad Seng-iad, said that if the government had accepted the farmers’ demands, the protest would have already ended and nobody would have died Sunday.

“The government must take sole responsibility,” he said in a statement read to reporters in Cha-uat district. “Our brother who died was neither a thief nor a convict. He was a farmer in trouble.”

The Washington Post