Pro-democracy protesters under the “Thalu Fah” movement gathered at the Victory Monument of Bangkok again this afternoon, August 13th, to demand the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O’Cha.
Here is our recap of today’s protest.
The gathering began at around 3:30 PM. with speeches and a symbolic performance by throwing fruits onto the street and setting them on fire to show how farmers had been allegedly affected by a poor and unsteady economy due to the government’s alleged poor management of the Covid-19 situation as they can’t sell their seasonal products.
As of today, Prime Minister Prayut was also being accused by members of the public and Sudarat Keyuraphan’s “Thai-Sang-Thai” political party together with the Lawyer’s Association of Thailand for his failed policies and administration of the Covid-19 situation in Thailand. Over 700,000 signatures were gathered by the groups to put together an attempt to file legal action against the Prime Minister for alleged mismanagement of the Covid-19 crisis.
No traffic police nor crowd control officials were present at the time of the demonstration’s initial gathering at 3:00 P.M. However, road barricades and barbed-wire fences were seen being installed at the Din Deang intersection, where the protesters planned to march to the Prime Minister’s military housing at the First Infantry Regiment. This was also the site of several other clashes and conflicts between law enforcement and protesters over the past week, as this was the fourth protest in less than a week.
You can see complete recent coverage on the protests over the past week in our politics section by clicking right here.
As of 4:30 PM., the heavy crowd of demonstrators lined up for a march to their destination. Banners and slogans were held up, one of them calling on all protesters not to act aggressively and not to throw bottles or projectiles at police forces as they only came here to bring down the Prime Minister. This was an attempt by protest organizers to avoid the violence and conflict of the last several protests, stressing that they were not here to protest against the police or fight law enforcement but to target the Prime Minister.
Roads to the PM’s house were blocked by heavy lines of cargo containers as soon as the frontliners had reached Sam Liam Din Daeng junction, where a violent confrontation had last occurred on Wednesday.
Most of the pro-democracy demonstrators arrived at the intersection at around 4:55 PM. A protest leader reminded all protesters over a megaphone not to use violence and protest peacefully without clashing with the force. But, if the police began firing rubber bullets and tear gas, they would respond by throwing color paint.
However, the first shot of tear gas was reportedly fired at the protest frontliners as of 5:13 PM. The protest leader insisted on peaceful protest and urged all protesters not to use any weapons or respond back. This was as protesters were gathered around shipping containers blocking the route to the Prime Minster’s home and reportedly looking for ways around the roadblock.
As of 5:26 PM., the Thalu Fah organizers then called off the rally, asking protesters to go home, stating that the situation was too tense amid police dispersal. The remaining protesters at the Sam Liam Din Daeng junction were reportedly facing shots of tear gas, being fired from riot police deploying at the Din Daeng tollway. Several gunshots, presumably of rubber bullets, were constantly heard. The protesters were asked to flee to the Ratchaprarop Road area.
Former government supporter and pro-democracy protester Tanat “Looknat” Thanakitamnuay who also presented at the protest for the first time today was reportedly injured at his eye from a tear gas canister during the dispersal and was rushed to the nearest hospital for surgery. He is a former ultra-royalist/government supporter with a history of prior confrontations and incidents who had recently switched sides. He later assured his supporters through social media that he was “fine” and would be getting surgery for his eye socket soon.
As of 6:08 PM., the protest was further halted due to heavy rain. However, some of the protesters did not leave the site despite the downpour, continued pleas from the protest organizers on social media to go home, and warnings from police. A water cannon truck was reportedly deployed to use against the protesters instead.
Police along with the Rapid Response Team started to arrive at the protest site to push back and arrest the remaining protesters. Some of the protesters scattered around nearby buildings for shelter and escape possible arrest.
The protest finally ended with law enforcement, partially with the help of ongoing heavy rain, securing the protest site around Din Daeng completely and clearing all protesters around 7:30 P.M.
A spokesman from the Royal Thai Police later defended their use of rubber bullets, water cannons, and tear gas, claiming they were being continually attacked by protesters using various items, firecrackers, fireworks, slingshots with rocks, and other materials. This came after widespread criticism online, especially when pictures of Looknat’s injury went viral.
Another major protest is scheduled for later this Sunday with a car rally with protesters determined not to let up the pressure on the Thai Government and the Prime Minister in particular.
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