Protesters occupy Rajprasong in defiance of state of emergency
A large number of protesters are occupying the Rajprasong intersection, the commercial centre of Bangkok, in defiance of the state of emergency which bans public gathering of five people or more.
The protesters were responding a call by the so-called Khana Ratsadorn group to rally there to reiterate their demand for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign and a new constitution to be adopted.
Earlier, their rally in front of the Government House was dispersed after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha declared a state of emergency in Bangkok.
There is a huge presence of police security at the Rajprasong rally as the crowd continued to grow at press time. The crowd openly ignored police officers’ order for them to end the rally.
There were some scuffles between the protesters and the police but no untoward incidents were reported. There were no signs that the police intended to evict the protesters.
Chonticha Jaengrew, one of the protest leaders, said the protesters intended to occupy the intersection only for the day and had no plans to camp out overnight.
With most of the key leaders of the Khana Ratsadorn group were taken into police custody, Chonticha and Panupong Jardnork, another outspoken critic of the Prayut government, seem to be playing leadership role in the protest.
Rajprasong intersection has been closed to traffic while most businesses in the area have closed or been blocked by steel barricades in anticipation of the rally.
The opposition Pheu Thai party, meanwhile, issued a statement today urging the government to immediately lift the state emergency and to stop harassing the protesters. The party insisted that the protest yesterday was peaceful and the protesters did not provoke unrest in a way which could jeopardise national security or public safety, as claimed by the government.
Several opposition MPs of the Kao Klai, Pheu Thai and Prachachart parties travelled to the Region 1 Border Patrol Police headquarters, in Pathum Thani, to try to post bail for the over 20 core members of the Khana Ratsadon being held there. Kao Klai party leader Pita Limjaroenrat told the media that there are four lawyers trying to help with the detainees, but more will be arranged.
He also warned the government to be aware of the negative impact on Thailand, noting that the country is now the focus of worldwide attention because of the Ggvernment’s heavy-handed treatment of the protesters.
Pol Lt-Gen Amphol Buarupporn, Commissioner of Region 1 Provincial Police, said that two of the protesters in custody, human rights lawyer Anont Nampa and Prasit “James” Khrutharote, were flown to the northern province of Chiang Mai this afternoon, to be questioned by the police there.
The 22 detainees have been identified as:
Parit Chivarak Samri Narksutthi
Anont Nampa Chokechai Rojajacharnpreecha
Prasit Khrutharote Parnpee Boonyathanapuwadet
Panusaya Sitthijirawattanakul Roengchai Bungwong
Chartchai Jamjan Singha Dolasook
Sakda Uppara Sopa Pongkasikorn
Chesada Jokkoksoong Duen Kongyod
Panathakorn Puangbuppha Somprasong Pao-in
Warote Thetthong Wanchai Sinsawat
Chesada Pongwanna Rungrote Klongsinchaiyo
Vichai Roknoi Chaiyapan Panthornsirimart
Police said that protest leaders, Anont, Parit, Panusaya and Prasit, face charges of inciting of public unrest, while the rest face charges of violating the state of emergency.
Related stories: State of emergency declared in Bangkok, protest leaders arrested