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Page last updated at 16:31 GMT, Monday, 13 October 2008 17:31 UK

Thailand's queen mourns protester

Queen Sirikit lays a symbolic lotus flower on the coffin of a demonstrator killed in clashes with police ahead of her cremation in Bangkok, on Monday
Thousands of protesters gave the queen an ecstatic welcome

Thailand's Queen Sirikit has attended the funeral of an anti-government protester killed in clashes with police last week.

She was greeted by thousands of jubilant anti-government protesters, who interpreted her attendance as a sign of support for their campaign.

Two people died and nearly 500 were injured in the violence, which erupted amid an intense political stand-off.

There had been criticism of the conduct both of police and protesters.

Thailand's King Bhumibol - an object of veneration among most Thais - has not commented on the political crisis, which has rocked the country since August.

But his wife's donation of a reported 1m baht ($29,000; 17,000) to help pay the medical expenses of people on both sides injured in the clashes was claimed by protesters as a gesture of support - though the money went to injured police officers as well as protesters.

Her Majesty said my daughter was a good woman
Jinda Radappanyawuthi
Father of woman cremated on Monday

Protesters led by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) group have occupied a central government complex for weeks, demanding the resignation of the government, which they say is acting on behalf of ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Correspondents say the crisis has deeply polarised Thai society, and with the lack of any political solution in sight, the threat of more violence remains real.

Clashes investigated

There were shouts of "Long live the queen!" as Queen Sirikit arrived for her hour-long visit to pay her respects at the cremation of 28-year-old Angkhana Radappanyawut.

Thai police officer fires teargas shell at anti-government protester on 7 October
Chinese teargas canisters have been blamed for causing horrific injuries
Her daughter Princess Chulabhorn, army chief Anupong Paojinda and senior members of the opposition Democrat Party also attended.

"Her Majesty said my daughter was a good woman since she had helped the nation and preserved the monarchy," the woman's father said after his audience with the queen, the Reuters news agency reported.

A PAD-organised rally at Bangkok police headquarters to protest at the alleged excessive use of force by police was postponed until later in the week in order to allow protesters to attend the funerals.

Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat says he has ordered a fact-finding committee to find out "what really happened", the Associated Press reported.

On Sunday he expressed regret for the violence but refused to bow to demands for his resignation.

"Many groups in society are calling for me to resign or dissolve the parliament," he said, according to AP.

"I am not attached to my position. However, I am not confident that is the right solution."

Canisters 'dangerous'

Newspapers have printed photos of some of the horrific injuries sustained in last week's clashes, including limbs blown off.

The police have attracted heavy criticism over their handling of the protests, but evidence has also emerged to suggest that protesters carried arms and used aggressive tactics.

A leading forensic scientist in Thailand blamed some of the injuries on the use of Chinese-made teargas canisters.

Porntip Rojanasunan, director of the Central Institute of Forensic Science, told AFP news agency that these canisters exploded prior to releasing their gas, and had the potential to cause serious injury.





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