Anti-government protesters reach Government House, criticize monarchy

Tens of thousands of anti-dictatorship protesters gathered at the Democracy Monument on the morning of 14 October. Their gathering and their planned march risked confrontation with pro-monarchy groups and people stationed along their path.

The crowd at the protest after dark

The protesters arrived at Government House at 18.10, having forced their way past more than 6 police blockades starting at Phan Fa bridge, 500 metres from the Democracy Monument. The main stage was set up at around 21.00, with tents and water trucks stationed along 2 km-long protest site, preparing for an overnight protest.

At 20.50, police officers ordered the protesters to disperse by 22.00, claiming obstruction of traffic. The protesters shouted "Police get out" in response.

The military had tried setting up barbed wire barricades in front of the 1st Army Area headquarters and at Soi Wat Benchamabophit.

Protesters moved plants off of the Democracy Monument, passing them from one person to another until the garden is removed. 

Before the march at 13.30, protestors, led by Parit Chiwarak and others, occupied the Democracy Monument, removing plants that have been placed there since 2019 to prevent protesters from using the monument as a protest site.

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration workers putting back the plants

As they left the monument, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration workers put the plants back.

The protest was scheduled after the protest at Thammasat University on 19 September. 14 October marks the important day in 1973 when the people first succeeded in overthrowing a dictatorship. The problem for commemorative protests nowadays is that 13 October marks the anniversary of the death of King Rama IX in 2016.

Protesters on the Democracy Monument waved red flags and a navy blue flag bearing the logo of the student activist group Free Youth after they removed the garden around the monument. 

The close dates risk confrontations between those who come voluntarily to observe the royal processions of King Rama X and other members of the Royal Family to the Grand Palace on 13 and 14 October.

The protest was one of the biggest in the series of anti-dictatorship protests since 18 July 2020. The protesters and leading figures criticized the government and senators over their lack of legitimacy and incompetence in governing the country.

The monarchy was also one of the targets of public criticism for its massive budget partly funded from taxpayers’ money. The amount of time that King Rama X spends in Germany was also the subject of wide criticism and mockery.

Confrontation, love here and there

Men wearing yellow shirts sitting along Ratchadamneon Road

Pro-monarchy groups took up positions around the Democracy Monument since the morning, and the anti-dictatorship protesters found themselves being taunted; some clashes took place. 

At 09.25 protesters occupied parts of Ratchadamnoen Avenue while Anon Nampa gave a speech. Royalist groups were also scheduled to meet around there. 

At 10.00, Attapon Buapat, a famous speaker from Khon Kaen, said the protest would be peaceful.

"Regardless of what colour you are, we are Thais. No one is the scum of the land," said Attapon as buses carrying people wearing yellow shirts passed by.

"I love you even if you hate me. I will not chase you out of the country even if you chase me out. I will see you as human even if you see me as trash," said Attapon.

Another group of people in yellow shirt passed the Democracy Monument in a green truck.

In the late morning, a woman in a yellow shirt raised 3 fingers and smiled at the protesters. Many Bangkok officials on a passing truck could also be seen raising 3 fingers.

Meanwhile, people in yellow shirts, who might have been policemen, government officials or ordinary people, were waiting in many places around the Democracy Monument. iLaw estimated their number at about 8,000

At 10.30, protesters had occupied half of the Ratchadamnoen roundabout. Some confrontations took place but were resolved by protest guards and the police.

Police took positions at the Democracy Monument and some were seen with pistols.

Electricity Authority workers holding flags drove past the protest

At 11.05, a dozen motorcycles, ridden by people dressed as Electricity Authority workers holding royal flags, drove past the protest site, made a U-turn and honked at the protesters in a provocative manner. Many protesters rushed at them but were restrained by the guards.

A group of people in yellow shirt holding pictures of the royal family waited by Ratchadamneon Road

At 11.20, at the Phan Fa Lilat intersection, a crowd in yellow shirts were waiting for a royal procession along Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue.

Meanwhile, officers set up barriers and buses to block the road. The police said that it was to prevent the public from using the road and said nothing about a royal procession.

At 11.50, a Chulalongkorn University graduate criticised the lèse majesté law for being written vaguely, making it difficult to have a dialogue, and said that it is the ultra-royalists who try too hard to protect the monarchy who cause damage.

Protesters began their march towards Government House. Some were wearing white ribbons, now a symbol of the student movement. 

The pro-democracy protesters began marching at around 14.00. At 14.42, the protesters arrived at Phan Fa bridge to make a left turn to Government House. The police blocked their path. Protesters repeatedly chanted "open the path".

At 14.48, the police opened a path at the bridge, and the protesters marched on.

Protesters flashed the three-finger salute as they marched through Ratchadamneon Road.

Two protesters carried the LGBTQ pride flag as they marched through Ratchadamneon Road

By 15.30, protesters had passed the Thewakam intersection approaching Government House. Minor clashes with the police occurred.

At 17.30, protesters were blocked at the Nang Loeng intersection for about an hour and a half by police barriers and buses. 

At 17.57, protesters pushed through police barriers and crossed Chamai Maruchet Bridge, heading towards Government House, where a group of protesters were reported to be already waiting. 

Military and police make a move

Protesters arriving at the Nang Loeng Intersection.

The military earlier tried to set up razor wire barricades in front of the 1st Army Area headquarters and at Soi Wat Benchamabophit, but refrained when booed by protesters.

Soldiers setting up razor wire barriers in front of the 1st Army Area headquarters.

Men in yellow shirts going into the 1st Army Area headquarters

There were reports of groups of people wearing yellow shirts seen going into the 1st Army Area headquarters.

A battalion of the Royal Guard 904, a unit of the King’s Guard, wearing yellow shirts, were seen blocking protesters from accessing the King Rama V Equestrian Monument, next to the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall.

Police spokesperson Pol Col Kritsana Pattanacharoen gave a late night press briefing saying that the protest is an attempt to undermine the system of governance, making it an unlawful public gathering. The police would enforce the relevant laws that the protesters had violated, especially those who had caused trouble to a royal procession.

At around 17.50, protesters were seen shouting at a royal motorcade making its way along Phitsanulok Road in front of the Nang Loeng intersection. Someone threw a bottle water at it.

Police on the scene rushed to prevent protesters from clashing with pro-monarchy protesters who take positions there to welcome the procession, and also to prevent further disruption to the procession. The pro-monarchy groups shouted “Long Live the King”.

Gallery

Protest leader Anon Nampa speaking on the small stage before the official start of the protest

Protesters gathering at the Democracy Monument ahead of the protest

Protesters walking up to the Democracy Monument after they have removed the garden.

One of the protesters held a placard saying "stop harassing people."

Protesters marching towards Government House

Rap Against Dictatorship set up a small performance at the protest in front of the Government House

 

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