A large crowd of pro-democracy protesters is planning to take over the Ratchaprasong intersection this afternoon and evening, November 18, claiming to be the biggest protest in the past months in response to escalating situations at the rally yesterday involving police and law enforcement forces and pro-institution opposition.
According to Bangkok’s Erawan Medical Center, at least 55 people were injured during skirmishes with the police and royalist counter-protesters. 32 of them were suffering from high-pressure water cannon injuries with teargas chemical-laced water and reportedly six injured people had been admitted to a nearby hospital after reportedly having gunshot wounds during clashes with opposition protesters in the evening.
Piya Tawichai, Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, stressed that the riot police were in compliance with the law and denied that they had opened fire with live ammunition or rubber bullets against both sides of protesters but they will investigate who might have used firearms. No group has taken responsibility in regards to the reported gunshot injuries.
A massive crowd of demonstrators had converged on parliament as of 2:30 P.M. yesterday to monitor and put pressure on Thai MPs and Senators discussing several changes to the constitution under their proposed “People’s draft”, which requests the removal of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O’Cha and his favored military-based government and the controversial reform of the powers of Thailand’s highest institution.
Despite some confrontations between police authorities and royalist supporters in the afternoon, pro-democracy protesters consistently advanced on the force with substitute shields, including inflatable pool ducks and abandoned police shields. After about six hours, police had pulled back and abandoned their water trucks and some police vans, which the protesters were seen spraying with graffiti.
Prominent protest leaders had called for the end of the demonstration shortly after some had made it to the in front of the Parliament’s gate at around 9:00 P.M. as the confrontation with opposition protesters became more physically intense as police retreated and pro-establishment supporters entered the area. Pro Democracy organizers, including popular protest leader “Penguin” had encouraged the protesters to gather at Ratchaprasong intersection at 4:00 P.M. today to await the result of the Parliament’s vote on the constitutional amendment bills.
This rally at the Parliament is considered by the protesters as the worst violence since a new youth-led protest movement had emerged in July following the end of the Covid-19 lockdowns in Thailand.
Meanwhile, the Bangkok police said that they would take legal charges on pro-democracy protesters for allegedly vandalizing government property and they are in the process of investigation before taking the protesters in question for legal processing.
The parliament session started again today at 9:30 A.M. and they will begin voting on the constitutional amendments this afternoon at 2:00 P.M.
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