Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Thailand: Call for "child-free" protest sites after violence claims three young lives

Source: UN Children's Fund

BANGKOK, 24 February 2014– The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today urged the Government, pro- and anti-government protest leaders and parents to protect children by keeping them away from all protest sites after the latest round of deadly political violence claimed the lives of three children and severely injured two others.

A 5-year-old girl was killed when gunmen attacked a People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protest rally in Trat province on Saturday night, while a 4-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister died after a suspected grenade exploded near a major PDRC protest site in central Bangkok late Sunday afternoon, according to hospital and media reports.

Two children were also severely injured in the incidents: a 5-year-old girl who remained in a coma on Monday at Rayong Hospital and a 9-year-old boy who was in intensive care at a Bangkok hospital, according to the Ministry of Public Health.

Bijaya Rajbhandari, the UNICEF Representative in Thailand, said the organization “condemns the violence that resulted in these tragic and senseless deaths and injuries to children. These incidents underscore the urgent need to keep children out of harm’s way in order to ensure their safety. UNICEF urges the Government, pro- and anti-government protest leaders and all parents to ensure children do not enter protest sites and are kept well away from all protest areas.”

Rajbhandari said areas within and around the protest barricades should become “child-free zones” to ensure there are no further fatalities or injuries among children. Rajbhandari also called upon authorities to ensure that those responsible for the attacks are brought to justice.

News reports said two adults were also killed over the weekend, one in Trat and one in Bangkok, while dozens suffered injuries. Since the anti-government protests began in November, at least 20 people have been killed and some 700 hundred injured, according to the local emergency medical services centre.