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Pro-democracy protests grow across Thailand, plans to continue

Caitlin Ashworth

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The Thaiger/ Caitlin Ashworth

Despite Bangkok’s State of Emergency banning public gatherings of more than 5 people, pro-democracy protesters continue to rally throughout the city every evening and are determined to do so until their demands are met. The movement, calling on the resignation of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, an end to Thailand’s military-run government and rewrite of the 2017 Charter, has spread to other provinces across Thailand as well.

Last night, protesters gathered by the thousands at Victory Monument and the Asok-Sukhumvit intersection next to Terminal 21. Hundreds gathered at by the Imperial World Samrong shopping centre and marched to the Bang Na intersection as well. MRT and BTS stations by protest sites were closed in response to the protests.

At the Asok protest, signs were placed by protesters on the BTS station’s gates closing off the transit system, many criticising the Thailand’s government and Monarchy. A sign in English said “WE WANT DEMOCRACY”. Signs listing the protester’s 3 demands were also placed around the protest site. They kept reiterating that they want the PM to resign, a rewrite of the Thai constitution, and government reform.

Some activists acknowledge the risk of arrest for violating the emergency decree and potentially violating Thailand’s strict lèse majesté laws which prohibits insults or criticisms of the Thai Monarchy. A student activist told The Thaiger “We are not scared.”

“It’s our right,” she said, adding that Thailand should have freedom of speech.

The State of Emergency was imposed early Thursday morning which led to the break up of a protest outside the Government House, and leading to the arrests of more than 20 people. The day before, protesters had first gathered at Democracy Monument and marched to the Government House to set up “camp” for a few days to put pressure on the Thai PM to resign.

Wednesday’s protest route happened to be the same day and the same route as a royal motorcade, causing complications and a clashes, albeit mostly vocal, between royal supporters and the thousands of assemble protesters. 2 pro-democracy activists were later arrested and could face life in prison for alleged “intention to harm the HM the Queen’s liberty”. Some protesters were seen holding their hands up in the 3-finger salute as the royal motorcade passed by. The salute, taken from the movie the Hunger Games, is a symbol of resistance.

Protesters continued to hold rallies despite the government order. On Friday night, the police broke up the crowd using high pressure water cannons at the Pathumwan intersection in the downtown shopping district (next to the MBK Mega Mall). Some claim that the blue-dyed liquid sprayed at the crowd may have been laced with a chemical like tear gas. Police denied the assertion.

Protesters are now coming prepared. An activist told The Thaiger that they want a peaceful demonstration without violence, but some standing in a line in front of the crowd came prepared with helmets and goggles. Some even had gas masks. The flimsy umbrellas they’re using has also become more of a symbol of resistance rather than being of any use against the police riot squads.

Many activists leaders have been arrested and some activists have “gone missing” over the past 4 days of protests. A student activist says some young people, just 17 years old, have been arrested at pro-democracy protests. The activists are calling on the police to release them and to inform the whereabouts of all protesters.

“We are so angry … People are still missing and we are worried about them.”

Protesters are now trying a new tactic. No organised leaders, claiming that their collective organisational capacities are working well. They’re also announcing the location of protests sites in the afternoon, just before the timing of the rallies, so police don’t have time to set up or prepare for a specific location. An activist also said that gathering at intersections, causing a traffic jam, makes it difficult for large police vehicles to reach them. While they intentionally block traffic, the protesters have been seen quickly moving out of the way for ambulances or official government vehicles to pass through.

Other cities

Reports say around 20 locations outside of Bangkok, held pro-democracy protests including the central provinces outside of the city in Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani. Large groups were also seen in Khon Kaen, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket and Surat Thani.

Sunday’s protest at the Asoke-Sukhumvit intersection

Pro-democracy protests grow across Thailand, plans to continue | News by Thaiger Pro-democracy protests grow across Thailand, plans to continue | News by Thaiger Pro-democracy protests grow across Thailand, plans to continue | News by Thaiger Pro-democracy protests grow across Thailand, plans to continue | News by ThaigerPro-democracy protests grow across Thailand, plans to continue | News by ThaigerPro-democracy protests grow across Thailand, plans to continue | News by Thaiger Pro-democracy protests grow across Thailand, plans to continue | News by Thaiger Pro-democracy protests grow across Thailand, plans to continue | News by Thaiger

 

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Tony Grace

    Monday, October 19, 2020 at 11:31 am

    This guy’s time is almost up history tells us that when he becomes an embarrassment to the masters above him . They will say what ,
    is the old mafia saying,.Nothing personal old friend its strictly business. Hes6 got to go.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Monday, October 19, 2020 at 12:58 pm

      What “masters above him” are you referring to?

      He’s not exactly the only one being targeted …

      • Avatar

        Tony Grace

        Monday, October 19, 2020 at 2:58 pm

        The one’s that fill the brown envelopes Who keep him and his associates in power so as to keep there welth and property away from public scrutiny
        Without having justify how they ach9 such wealth.

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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