Representatives from two pro-democracy groups, “Thalu Fah” and the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, are scheduled to observe a constant protest at the Sam Liam Din Deang junction in Bangkok from 5:00 PM. today, September 12th, following concerns over a harsh confrontation between a third group, hardline pro-democracy “Thalu Gas” protesters, and the crowd-control police yesterday.
Regarding yesterday’s hours-long protest, at least 77 protesters – including 9 teenagers under 18 years old, were arrested during the violent confrontation last night, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)
Yesterday’s crackdown became a controversial topic since Thai social media had harshly criticized and doubted what they called the police’s power abuse towards the protesters, media, and civilians in many aspects.
Despite similar tactics of both protesters and officials used over the past several weeks of protests, police, this time, reportedly forced the media to leave the protest area as of 8:20 P.M. due to the approaching curfew hours. (Bangkok, as well as 28 other provinces, is currently under curfew from 9:00 P.M. to 4:00 A.M. for Covid-19 related reasons, according to the government, claiming it has nothing to do with protests.) They reportedly told reporters that they could be arrested if they violated the curfew, according to the police. The law enforcement officers continued to use force, including firing rubber bullets and tear gas, to disperse the protesters.
Netizens online seemed to overwhelmingly consider this as a police overuse of force, which not only limited the public’s right to access the current situation and caused injuries towards the protesters but also crucially troubled innocents and residents living nearby. The dispersal lasted for more than 8 hours and ended at around 2:00 A.M.
As of today, “Thalu Gas” protesters had started gathering at around 5:17 P.M. and reportedly began shooting firecrackers under the Din Deang expressway.
Meanwhile, another protest, organized by a pro-democracy group called “Mok Luang Rim Nam”, was staged at Ratchaprasong Intersection from 6:30 P.M. onwards. A water cannon truck was reportedly seen deployed at the Royal Thai Police Headquarters. Law enforcement was reportedly advancing to both sites.
Both protest organizers urged the public to closely monitor the situation, especially how the riot police would use their force against people as they claimed that the officials might unlawfully use the power to attack protesters and civilians.
Thai Law Enforcement, meanwhile, has maintained the protests are illegal due to the emergency decree to control Covid-19 and that all assemblies and rallies are currently against the law, claiming dispersing the protests is not political but health-related. Protesters have disagreed, stating they are being targeted and are not being allowed to express their opinions and voice.