Pro-democracy protesters began gathering again this afternoon, August 15th, for the “car mob” protests at Ratchaprasong Intersection and several inner areas of Bangkok to oust Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O’Cha and his government.
TPN media notes that the protesters themselves use the word mob as a self-description.
Motorcycles, cars, and large vehicles had filled the Ratchaprasong road since 2:00 PM. today for another car protest, led by former red-shirt leader Nattawut Saikua and political activist Sombat Bunngam-anong or “Bo Ko Lai Jut”. Protesters have been recently gathering more frequently as a political response and angst to what they say is the Thai government’s mishandling of the Covid-19 domestic situation.
This comes as Bangkok and 28 other areas are under strict “Maximum Control” zones which basically mandate a close of all “non-essential” business and hospitality, as well as a mandatory overnight curfew and other strict regulations. The partial lockdown measures have been enormously unpopular based on social media criticism, partially due to what protesters say is a lack of appropriate financial aid for the measures. In Thailand, a significant amount of the population are “informal” workers and do not collect social security. As a result, many affected by the current crisis have had little (to no) financial aid.
Meanwhile, another car-honking parade, organized by “Thalu Fah” and “We Volunteer” movements, was staged at the Democracy Monument at around 2:00 PM. before driving to five destinations at 3:00 PM. and returning to the Monument for anti-government speeches and symbolic performances.
The Thalu Fah also insisted on a peaceful demonstration without facing any confrontation and would conclude the gathering at around 6:00 PM.
Similar protests were also reportedly staged across the country, including Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Nonthaburi, Chanthaburi, Khon Kaen, Ubon Ratchathani, etc. All car protests nationwide were planned to make symbolic honking gestures together at 6:00 PM. to demand the resignation of the Prime Minister.
As of 4:20 PM., the Ratchaprasong car rally had returned to the intersection after parading around the Lumpini area. Speeches and performances were given at the protest site and available via online channels as well.
As of 4:50 PM., a group of independent protesters was reportedly gathering at Sam Liam Din Daeng junction and some were heading to a line of cargo containers near the Din Daeng tollway, where crowd control police were also stationed. Firecrackers and fermented fish sauce were reportedly thrown. The protests had remained peaceful prior to this group of independent protesters interacting with police, despite continued pleas from protest leaders that the protest was not about engaging or taunting police but about targeting the Prime Minister. The Din Daeng area has seen continued clashes between protesters and police over the past week, at times violent.
As of 5:14 PM., tear gas was reportedly fired at the independent protesters, causing them to move back to the Din Daeng junction. A water cannon truck also arrived at the scene afterward and started spraying water laced with tear gas at the group of demonstrators from Din Daeng tollway.
Meanwhile, “car mob” participants nationwide started honking their horns at 6:00 PM. along with Thailand’s national anthem to symbolically protest the against Prime Minister and his government. The protests were called off afterward.
The confrontation at Din Daeng was still ongoing as of 6:30 PM. According to iLaw, when being asked why they were gathering at the Sam Liam Din Daeng junction, some of the protesters said because they heard of a confrontation, so they came to help.
As of 6:30 PM., Nattawut Saikua had arrived at the junction, calling for the protesters to move back from the containers line and go home as the confrontation was not part of the car mob activities. Some of the protesters listened to him, however, a small group refused and continued to engage with law enforcement.
However, the police reportedly continued firing tear gas from the highway to disperse a group of remaining protesters at around 7:30 PM. A police box at the junction was reportedly burnt while firecrackers were seen shooting from the confrontation site.
As of 9:00 P.M., a small group of protesters and law enforcement was continuing to engage with each other in and around the Din Daeng area despite a mandatory curfew from 9:00 P.M. to 4:00 A.M. in Bangkok that requires everyone to be home. Protesters have reportedly stated that they refuse to back down this evening, despite police warnings and protest leaders’ pleas.
Prominent Thai protest group Thalufah announced following this evening’s protests that they will arrange another protest-the sixth in just over a week-tomorrow afternoon and attempt to march to the Prime Minister’s House. Previous attempts to do so have continued to result in violent confrontations between protesters and law enforcement. Police continue to state all assemblies and rallies are currently against the law due to Covid-19 related regulations and orders. Protesters, meanwhile, disagree and say they have the human right to their voice and opinion and plan to continue to put pressure on the Thai government with near-daily protests.
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