Thai protesters storm hospital

Thai protesters storm hospital

Thai protesters storm hospital

A group of the so-called Red Shirts broke into Chulalongkorn Hospital late on Thursday despite pleas from its director, then withdrew after not finding soldiers or police within the sprawling compound.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, whom the protesters seek to overthrow, went on nationwide television to criticise recent Red Shirt actions that have paralysed areas of central Bangkok.

The Red Shirts, drawn mostly from the rural and urban poor, are demanding dissolution of Parliament and new elections, saying Abhisit came to power through the connivance of Bangkok’s elite bureaucrats and the military, which ousted their hero — ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra — in a 2006 coup.

“It’s not necessary for me to condemn (the hospital break-in) since Thai society and the world community have already done that,” Abhisit said, adding that the government would “not allow any movements that pose threats to the public”.

Defying law
Despite such warnings, the Red Shirts have defied authorities at every turn, entering the Parliament building, laying siege to a telecommunications complex, blocking roads and staging mass motorised rallies since setting up camp in the capital March 12. At least 27 people have died and nearly 1,000 have been injured in outbreaks of street violence.

Security forces have in almost every instance been unable or unwilling to stop the Red Shirt forays, including the incursion into the century-old public hospital, which feared a second break-in Friday.

However, Weng Tojirakarn, a Red Shirt leader and medical doctor, issued a “deep apology” for the raid staged by up to 100 protesters. He called it “inappropriate, too much, and unreasonable.”

Later, the protesters opened up a section of their barricade to allow vehicles access to one of the entrances to the Chulalongkorn Hospital compound.
It was not clear whether Weng apologised because of the sharp negative reaction, or whether the foray was staged by some of the more radical Red Shirts rather than by general consensus.

About 100 police were sent to guard the hospital grounds. A hospital announcement said patients were sent to other hospitals or to buildings farther away from the Red Shirts.

Almost all outpatient services were being suspended along with surgery, except in emergency cases.