Riot police use water cannons to disperse pro-democracy protesters outside the Parliament in Bangkok on November 17, 2020. Photo: AFP/Vachira Vachira/NurPhoto

Thai democracy protesters are set to return to the streets of Bangkok on Wednesday, a day after six of their number were shot with live rounds, as lawmakers prepared to vote on possible constitutional reforms.

A day earlier, in the most violent clashes since the pro-democracy movement kicked off in July, police used tear gas and water cannon on demonstrators.

Some in the crowd were shot, according to medical workers, though it was unclear who opened fire.

Bangkok has for months been rocked by youth-led rallies demanding a constitutional overhaul and the removal of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, who took power in a 2014 coup.

Some in the movement have also called for reforms to the monarchy – a once-taboo subject.

On Tuesday, as lawmakers debated possible changes to the military-scripted constitution, protesters plowed through police barricades towards parliament, prompting the use of tear gas and water cannon.

Pro-democracy protesters gather beside oversized inflatable ducks in front of police firing water cannons during an anti-government rally in Bangkok on November 17, 2020. Photo: AFP/Mladen Antonov

More than 50 people were injured, mostly by tear gas, according to the Erawan Emergency Medical Centre, an ambulance and medical coordination service, which said six people were shot.

Four people were still in hospital.

A Bangkok police spokesman denied officers had used rubber bullets or live rounds.

The Thai Human Rights Lawyers Association slammed the police tactics, saying “it was not in accordance with international procedure to disperse demonstrations.”

At the two-day sitting, Thai MPs have been discussing various proposals for constitutional change, which mostly exclude any reform to the monarchy.

One proposal seeks to replace the military-appointed Senate with directly elected representatives.

It was Senate support that allowed Prayut to hold on to power after last year’s election.

Parliament is expected to vote Wednesday on which amendments are to be debated further.

The vote is expected to take several hours and may not be finished by the time protesters regroup at a major intersection in Bangkok’s shopping district of Ratchaprasong at 4pm (0900 GMT).

“We will open a new era in our fighting,” prominent student leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak told the crowd overnight.

A heavy police presence was expected.

AFP

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