Thai pro-democracy protests were broken up by Thai police forces this evening, October 16, at Pratumwan Intersection in central Bangkok under a declaration of a severe state of emergency.
Riot police allegedly used high-pressure water cannons reportedly dyed with blue colors and laced with chemicals to disperse allegedly unarmed protesters before gradually charging at the crowd and taking over the intersection. The colored and chemical water was reported to have caused a rapid irritation on people’s skins and had marked protesters’ bodies with blue color for possible future arrests.
The crowd retreated and moved down a street nearby Chulalongkorn University, where some non-profit organizations and volunteers had provided them temporary shelter and first-aid.
Many protesters, onlookers, and journalists at the scene were reportedly hit by the chemical water but, according to the police authorities, it did not harmfully affect any individual in the long term.
Protest leaders had declared the end of the demonstration one hour after the first water cannon was fired. The protesters were advised to wash away the alleged toxic and blue-dyed color water from their bodies and were asked to leave the scene immediately.
The police continued to push back the small number of protesters who were left at the intersection, according to witnesses. The protesters had managed to move further down to the Ratchathewi intersection where the road was not closed. Police reportedly followed the group to get them to disperse.
The Royal Thai Police also announced more arrest warrants for protest leaders, including prominent activist Panupong “Mike Rayong” Jaknok. A group of detention officers has reportedly arrested one prominent protester at the protest scene.
The escalating police action had been allegedly implemented under the severe state of emergency declared by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O’Cha since the early hours of Thursday, October 15 while the protesters had, according to their statements, peacefully camped out in front of the Government House.
The gathering today, according to the Thai Government, violated multiple laws including an emergency declaration which made gatherings of over five people illegal.
A massive crowd gathered in front of the MBK department store within less than half an hour despite heavy rain after a relocation announcement from the Free People group on social media.
Law enforcement officers who were previously gathering at the Ratchaprasong intersection had also moved to line up 100 meters away from where the demonstrators were and were advancing to face with the protest front-liners before the heavy disposal began.
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