“Car Mob” demonstrations organized nationwide in Thailand on Sunday, calling for Prime Minister resignation following continuing Covid-19 crisis

Bangkok –

Several groups of pro-democracy protesters have organized a “car mob” protest in Bangkok and other major provinces today, August 1st, to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O’Cha and his government, following, according to their statement, the utter failure to cope with the Covid-19 situation and vaccine procurement in Thailand.

Similar to earlier car protests in Bangkok last month, the demonstration was launched by political activist Sombat Bunngam-anong, aka “Bo Ko Lai Jut” (Polka Dot Editor) of Sombat Tour, urging every activist group from all around the city to gather at their nearest rally points before parading to the Vibhavadi Rangsit Road in the afternoon under the campaign “All Roads Lead to Rome”.

TPN media notes that the protesters themselves choose the word “mob” to describe themselves, including on Twitter hashtags.

Various prominent leaders of pro-democracy and anti-establishment groups had joined the so-called “car mob” demonstration, including the former secretary-general of Red-Shirt movement Nattawut Saikua, Ratsadon leaders Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Anon Nampa, Chatupat “Pai Daodin” Boonpatthararaksa of the “Thalu Fah” group, and We Volunteer (Wevo) guard leader Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep.

In Bangkok, the car caravan protest was staged at the Democracy Monument, Ranchadumnoen Intersection, and Ratchaprasong Intersection since 8:00 AM. this morning. Meanwhile, similar demonstrations were also being staged in several other provinces, including Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Lampang, Surin, Nakhon Ratchasima, etc.

As of 1:00 PM., the convoys were traveling around Bangkok to join the Sombat Tour’s destination at Vibhavadi Rangsit Road. Car honking, loudspeakers, and music were heard around the city as a symbolic gesture of protest against the Prime Minister and his government.

Meanwhile, heavy lines of containers and barbed-wire fences along with crowd control police were deployed around the outbound lanes of Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, blocking the entrance of the 1st Infantry Regiment, where the Prime Minister’s current residence is located and where he has been working from primarily during the current crisis and government “work from home” measures.

A large number of motorcycles and cars had also arrived at Gate 6 of Don Mueang International Airport, where the main gathering was set and filled the Vibhavadi Rangsit Road later in the day. The protest remained peaceful overall under the watchful surveillance of police officers and crowd control police.

According to iLaw, today’s protest was considered Thailand’s largest pro-democracy gathering in 2021 under Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O’Cha’s regime, breaking the previous protest record on October 18th, 2020. As it was comprised of vehicles, this, according to organizers, diminished the risk of spreading Covid-19.

As of 4:30 PM., the car mob protest was reportedly called off. However, some protesters were reportedly remaining in the area.

It was reported by local media that a group of riot control police was lined and blocked the Vibhavadi road. Protesters were asking the authorities to move backward.

As of 5:29 PM., police announced that the protest must disperse and violated emergency decree-laws that ban rallies and gatherings and arrests would be conducted if the protesters continued to gather. Some of the masses began to disperse.

However, water cannon trucks, tear gas, and rubber bullets were reportedly fired in front of the military camp in the Din Daeng area, causing the protesters to flee to the Din Daeng Police Station.

As of 6:08 PM., the confrontation continued at Din Daeng Intersection. The remaining protesters moved downwards to Victory Monument.

Although sporadic confrontations between a few stray protesters and law enforcement reportedly continued, the protest appeared to have ended not long before a mandatory curfew in Bangkok at 9:00 P.M. Despite the tussles, the overall protest was seen as peaceful by those who attended.

Photo Courtesy: iLaw

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