Massive crowds of unarmed pro-democracy protesters gathered in four major locations in Bangkok yesterday, October 17, defying the severe state of emergency and showed their outrage against police action to disperse protesters with water cannons and riot police at Pathumwan intersection on Friday.
The government had closed down all MRT Blue Line stations, 15 main stations of the BTS Skytrain, and the Airport Rail Link’s Phayathai station to prevent protesters from traveling and gathering at the stations after the People’s Party had announced online to conduct peaceful protests at many BTS stations in the afternoon. The action caused significant traffic chaos and delays across the city until service was resumed in the late evening. Protesters had never announced to disrupt the stations or transportation merely that they were planning to protest the government at the area around the stations.
The news spread quickly through social media platforms. Many pro-democracy protesters had largely and nimbly assembled at Samyarn Mitrtown at the Samyarn MRT station, Wong Wian Yai BTS station, Ladprao Intersection, and Bangna Intersection around 3:00 PM despite the massive mass transportation closures.
Police authorities had reportedly closed down all roads in the Victory Monument area as well as they thought the protesters were going to gather, but no one had turned up.
The largest group was believed to be at the Ladprao intersection where a massive crowd had spontaneously closed the intersection within a few hours and organized what they called a leaderless and organic protest.
Many simultaneous rallies were also arranged nationwide, including Pattaya which we reported on extensively, Ubon Thani, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Sawan, Kalasin, Uttaradit, Nong Khai, Roi Et, Nakhon Pathom, Sakon Nakhon, Khon Kaen and Songkhla, Phayao, Trang, Udon Thani, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Surin.
All rallies were reportedly peaceful and well-organized for about five hours before they ended the flash mobs in Bangkok at 8:00 PM as the People’s Party had previously announced to prevent another possible confrontation and dispersal from the police.
An hour later, prominent protest leader Panupong “Mike Rayong” Jadnok was arrested after giving a speech at Ramkhamhaeng University following an arrest warrant announced yesterday during the police dispersal.
Meanwhile, student activist Bunkueanun “Francis” Paothong and Tatthep “Ford” Ruangprapaikitseri, one of the leaders of the Free Youth Movement, were granted bail for a temporary release yesterday. Francis was charged with alleged violence against Her Majesty the Queen following alleged obstruction of the Royal motorcade last week while Ford was charged for sedition and other charges related to organizing rallies.
Despite the arrest of all their prominent protest leaders and the prohibition of a social gathering of more than 5 people in Bangkok, the protesters are aiming to arrange other spontaneous protest sites at more BTS stations this evening, October 18.
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