With the latest announcement from protesters about a new round of protests today, from 4pm, Police scrambled their resources to try and second guess the locations. Whilst the protesters are out-gunned by brute force and equipment, they remain nimble, digitally connected and committed to continue the latest round of protests, defying demand from the police that they are breaking the law. There’s also a lot more of them.
The Thai Government and police are now in the difficult situation of trying to defend their crackdown and heavy-handed oppression of largely peaceful anti-government protests, albeit attracting up to 30,000 people and bringing some sections of the city to a stop. The sight of riot police pushing into a group of unarmed 18 – 30 year old protesters doesn’t play out well on international media. The images from last night have been screened around the world with around 30-50 live Facebook streams alone.
This afternoon the pro-democracy protesters assembled at 5 different locations, including BTS Skytrain stations and prominent traffic intersections. The government closed down the Sukhumvit BTS Line and the Airport Link to try and prevent protesters from travelling to the stations. They also closed down the Victory Monument where they though protesters were going to gather, but no one turned up.
Protesters were told, through an increasingly sophisticated use of social media and messaging systems, to go to the nearest of 5 BTS stations and other prominent locations…
1. Lat Phrao Intersection
2. Wongwian Yai
3. Udomsuk marching to Bangna intersection
4. BTS Asoke
5. Sam Yan Mitr Town
The locations were confirmed at 3.10pm, scrambling the police to try and bolster security around the venues and intervene.
Groups of protesters headed to the mini-rallies at the 5 locations, the largest group headed to Lat Phrao, where an estimated 2,500 gathered. There was another 1,000 assembled at Bang Na intersection. There was also a spontaneous gathering around the Ramkhumhang Airport Link station.
The United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration also arranged simultaneous rallies from 4pm in Ubon Thani, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Sawan, Kalasin, Uttaradit, Nong Khai, Roi Et, Pattaya, Nakhon Pathom, Sakon Nakhon, Khon Kaen and Songkhla, Phayao, Trang, Udon Thani, Nakhon Ratchasima and Surin.
Posted by เยาวชนปลดแอก － Free YOUTH on Saturday, 17 October 2020
Protest at Udomsuk – Live stream from Free Youth
If the stream doesn’t play, click onTHIS LINK.
Police ended up shutting half of Bangkok’s BTS and skytrain system in anticipation of, well, whatever was going to happen. But in the end the protesters only gathered at one of the stations. The police have made it clear that they are prepared to close down the city, if necessary, to prevent the protesters from gathering.
Police shut down all stations on the Airport Rail Link from Phaya Thai to Suvarnabhumi and blocked access to Victory Monument and the Asoke intersection, 2 of the cities busiest. Police noted that, strategically, the inconveniencing of Bangkokians, as the police chase the protesters around the city, can be blamed on the rallies and the protest organisers.
Last night, after police sealed off the Ratchaprasong intersection, where it was thought the protesters would assemble, the protest organisers quickly shifted to the Pathumwan intersection, where, some 2 hours later police would intervene with riot police and high-power water cannons to remove the crowd of 3,000+
Police spokesman Pol Maj Gen Yingyos Thepchamnong has reiterated the police’ determination to enforce the new State of Emergency, introduced in the early hours of Thursday morning. He also defended the use of the high-powered water cannons last night.
“The police abided by international standards to disperse the demonstration.”