RECAP: Three major pro-democracy demonstrations peacefully staged in several areas around Bangkok yesterday

PHOTO: Thansetthakij

Bangkok –

Three major pro-democracy demonstrations had been staged around Bangkok all day yesterday, March 5th, mainly to demand the release of their protest leaders who were denied bail several times over lese majeste charges.

As of 9:00 AM., the first group of pro-democracy protesters, led by Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa, arrived at the Rangsit area of Bangkok after walking about 250 kilometers from Nakhon Ratchasima under the campaign “Walk Through the Sky: Return Power to the People”.

The peaceful march was to demand the release of nine detained people and “Ratsadon” protest leaders, including Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Anon Nampa, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, and Patiwat “Morlum Bank” Saraiyeam who were detained over lese majeste charges.

PHOTO: INN News

The walking group continued the march to the Kasetsart intersection throughout the afternoon regardless of some minor attempts of prevention from crowd control police. They safely arrived and camped out at their destination at around 4:00 PM. Public speech and pro-democracy symbolic activities peacefully ran until 11:30 PM. The march will continue for the last day today as they plan to reach their final destination at the Democracy Monument at around 4:30 PM.

Meanwhile, police blockages were installed at several government buildings such as the Criminal Court, the 11th Infantry Regiment, and the Government Complex building after the “REDEM” group and “Progressive Red” movement announced their pro-democracy march to certain places in the evening.

The “REDEM” group started gathering at the Ladprao intersection at around 5:00 P.M. while the “Progressive Red” movement, who swiftly changed their gathering area from the 11th Infantry Regiment to the Government Complex building, had their march set up at the Sapanmai area at 4:00 PM. Several main roads were blocked by riot police in order to maintain peace and order among the protesters.

Despite the police announcement to call off the demonstrations, as protests and rallies had been officially banned by government order the night before, allegedly to protect against Covid-19, both groups marched on to their destinations. The “REDEM” protesters arrived at the Criminal Court at around 6:45 PM.

PHOTO: Thansetthakij

As of 6:30 P.M., WeVo protest guard leader Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep was reportedly captured by SWAT Police at the Major Cineplex Ratchayothin. More than 30 protest guards were also reportedly captured at the same period of time, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR). A brief altercation took place when several other protesters attempted to block the path of a prisoner transport vehicle carrying the group of guards, including reportedly throwing paint at the vehicle in protest of the action.

Toto, along with 18 protest guards, was reportedly taken to the Region 1 Police Border Control Station while the other 27 guards were taken to Phahonyothin Police Station for daily reports before they were released as they were reportedly captured without arrest warrants. The exact charges and reasons for their detainment were not made clear by authorities, although protesters claimed it was a “proactive” move to attempt to subdue the scheduled Criminal Court protest.

Hundreds of security forces were deployed at the Criminal Court to monitor the situation of the REDEM-led activities, which had previously had a violent confrontation at the First Infantry Regiment with the police last week.

The group staged many symbolic activities to express their anger against Thailand’s judicial system and the government under Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O’Cha. They later set fire to the rubbish they dumped in front of the Court, located in front of a Royal portrait, before extinguishing the fire.

The atmosphere for all demonstrations remained peaceful throughout the evening overall. All demonstrations were announced as ending at 9:00 PM. However, some REDEM protesters gathered at the Phahonyothin Police Station to protest the detention of protest guards. The group peacefully dispersed after the police had released all of them.

The next scheduled protest has not yet been announced, although a pro-establishment group has stated they will be holding their own protests every Sunday in Bangkok in support of the current government and institutions. Protests and rallies and mass assemblies, regardless of the reason, remain banned in Bangkok and surrounding provinces-to protect against Covid-19, claim officials, stating it is not political. Protesters, however, disagree, stating the ban was enacted simply to give authorities more legal ammunition to arrest peaceful protesters.

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