Thai protesters overrun police barricades

ÁÎ×Ó¹â Henry C.K.Liu ¹ù¤l¥ú hliu at
Sun May 7 18:41:44 MDT 2000

Thai protesters overrun police barricades

                                      CAPTION: Activists break
                                      through a barrier after it was
                                      abandoned by riot police near
                                      the venue of the ADB meeting
                                      in Chiang Mai yesterday.
                                      Picture: Reuters

                                      STORY: THOUSANDS opposed to the
Asian Development Bank yesterday overwhelmed Thai police and bulldozed
their way to a hotel in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where bank officials held
their annual meeting.

           They first marched through the downtown area of the northern
city and converged at a small, narrow bridge over a river leading to the
Westin Hotel, where they were stopped by hundreds of riot police standing
behind crowd-control barriers.

           Numbering about 4,000, they were whipped up by their leaders
and pushed forward and knocked over barriers, pushing the outnumbered
police back to the middle of the bridge and more crowd barriers. Police
did not use their clubs to fight back.

           The scene was dangerous, with a crush of 1,500 people packed on
the narrow span. Women screamed and shoved for breathing space.
           Newsmen caught between both sides were crushed against the

           After 15 tense minutes of negotiations with protest leaders,
the police fell back and allowed the crowd across. They gathered across
the street from the Westin Hotel, where most delegates were  unaware of
the scene outside.

           At least five people were slightly injured, demonstrators said,
but no one was immediately reported to be seriously hurt. Five protesters
were arrested and quickly released. About 2,000 police deployed between
them and the hotel, but there were no more clashes.

           About noon, the crowd sat in the road and blocked traffic while
eating lunch.

           ``We have to protect our right to demonstrate,'' said Dawan
Bhanhasbee, 35. ''We did not plan for this violence, but we knew we had to
reach our goal, in front of the Westin Hotel.''

           Like many of the protesters, Ms Dawan lives in the Klong Dan
area outside Bangkok, the capital, where the Manila-based development bank
is helping fund a mammoth wastewater treatment plant.

           The Klong Dan villagers, who make their living from fishing and
farming, say the plant will destroy their home to serve nearby industries
that are heavy polluters.

           The ADB claims that millions of people will be served by the
plant and that the villagers will benefit from less pollution reaching
waters where they fish and use for farming.

           Other victims of ADB projects, mostly people deprived of their
land by dam projects, have joined university students and 38
non-governmental organisations to demonstrate against the three-day

           They are taking their lead from other big riots against similar

multilateral organizations in recent months, including the one in Seattle
against the World Trade Organisation.

           In a forum this week, they demanded that the bank stop funding
the Klong Dan project, cease making loans that increase indebtedness of
poor nations, and stop financing projects that are said to hurt the poor.
- Associated Press

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