Between 20,000 - 30,000 people joined the anti-government protest at the Democracy Monument on Sunday (16 August) to press their three demands for the government. The Free People Group, who organised the protest, called the protest “deadline for the end of the dictatorship,” a phrase which is also used as the event’s hashtag. It is now dubbed the largest demonstration in Thailand since the 2014 military coup by the media.
People gathering around the Democracy Monument during the protest
The Free People movement's statement also showed it is adhering to the three demands made at previous protests: an end to the authorities’ harassment of citizens, the drafting of a new constitution, and the dissolution of parliament.
The group said it was also opposed to all attempts to stage a military coup and to form a national unity government to break the political impasse.
A crowd of over 1,000 people have begun gathering on Ratchadamnoen Road ahead of the demonstration at 15.00, as the organisers began setting up the stage.
This incident is happening simulteneosly with another pro-monarchy demonstration on the opposite side of the roundabout.
Protesters, most of whom are wearing a black t-shirt, arriving at the Democracy Monument.
The hashtag #แท๊กเพื่อนไปม๊อบ ("tag a friend to go to protest") has hit Thailand's top 4 twitter trend. The event's hashtag, as well as the general Thai politics tag #WhatsHappeninginThailand also trended on Twitter through the night.
A Large rainbow flag, a symbol of gender equality, is waved at the demonstration.
Some demonstrators carry their own message in the banner. Reporters spotted people who were calling for gender equality and legalizing abortion.
The Women for Freedom and Democracy group also set up a station at the protest for people to sign their petition calling for the decriminalization of abortion. They also set up pieces of clothes where people can write down their hopes and dreams for gender equality, as well as a table where participants can colour a drawing of a vagina.
Protesters holding a sign saying "No more dictatorship in Thailand" and a smiley face which says "I won't be silenced."
Representatives from the student rights group Bad Student gave a speech on the main stage about the violation of human rights in school, as well as the harassments faced by students who are exercising their freedom of expression.
Kornkanok Kamta from the Women for Freedom and Democracy group read a statement calling for the decriminalization of abortion.
She asked whether there can be freedom if we still don't have the right to our own bodies, if abortion still carries the risk of breaking the law and losing our lives.
"This is our body, our decision, our responsibility for our own lives. This is the best option we have chosen for ourselves,” she said.
(Left) Winyu Wongsurawat
Spokedark TV's Winyu "John" Wongsurawat said that he comes today to give any support as media.
"Anybody that are hesitating to join or come to support the new generation, this time you may not sure. But if there is another time, if possible, [I] want you to come out."
A bird's eye view of the demonstration, showing the crowd surrounding the Monument on all sides. (Source: Niranam Plod Aek)
Police officers are blocking traffic on Ratchadamnoen Road from Phan Fah Intersection and setting up security checkpoints. More people are still arriving as protesters now surround the monument on all sides.
Protestors sang Jin Gammachon's song "เพื่อมวลชน" ("For the People") with the Commoner Band, while various messages are projected onto the wings around the Democracy Monument, including #ลบยังไงก็ไม่ลืม ("You can erase it but we won't forget") #SaveAnon, #SaveWanchalearm, #ตามหาความจริง ("Searching for truth") and #ให้มันจบที่รุ่นเรา ("Make it end in our time").
As of 19.00, the organisers estimated that 20,000 - 30,000 are currently taking part in the protest.
Police officers cut off the signal and took down a drone, which is being used to document the protest, stating that drones are forbidden from flying in the area.
Around 300 police officers arrived at the protest ground. An officer said that it was a routine redeployment.
Pop band The Bottom Blues performed on stage. Lead singer Ammy said that "if one day I go missing, I would like everyone to know that I'm very happy to be here and that I get to do and say the right thing."
B-Floor Theatre performed a stage adaptation of Seni Sauvapong's Pisat ("Ghosts"), telling the story of the ruling class's way of reaching agreements for their own gain and parodying many incidents, including the case of the Red Bull heir.
The organisers and participants sang a Thai version of Do You Hear the People Sing? from the musical Les Misérables, which is often sung by the pro-democracy movement during protests in recent years.
Human rights lawyer Anon Nampa spoke at today's protest on the student movement and its demands for constitutional amendments and monarchy reform.
The organisers then invited those who are on the list of activists being targeted for arrest onto the stage. They then invited the police to come to the stage and explain the situation about their arrest.
The organisers sang "Do You Hear the People Sing?" while standing in front of banners which stated all of their demands before closing the demonstration.
Anon Nampa surrounded by reporters
Following the end of the demonstration, the organisers then walked to the Samranrat Police Station to ask for clarification on whether there is an arrest warrant out for them.
Anon told reporters that they are waiting to hear back from the police on who among the 31 activists they have already issued an arrest warrant for, and the group will wait at the Giant Swing for answers.
Student protest leader Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree said that they did not intend to turn themselves in, but were just asking about arrest warrants, and that if an arrest warrant has been issued for them, they will let the police arrest them. However, the police has yet to give them any answer, so they will be heading home for now.
Tattep said that he will continue to live as normal because he doesn't know if he will be arrested. He is grateful that so many people joined them today, and believes that there are others who share their dream but did not come.