Thousands join protest despite mass gathering ban

Thousands of people joined a protest at the Ratchaprasong intersection on Thursday evening (15 October) following the crackdown on the protest at the Government House earlier in the day despite the declaration of a severe state of emergency, which bans mass gatherings. 

Protesters flashed the three-finger 'Hunger Games' salute during the protest at Ratchaprasong Intersection. 

At 01.00 on 15 October, human rights lawyer and protest leader Anon Nampa announced an end to the protest at the Government House and called on the protesters to join another protest at 16.00 on 15 October at the Ratchaprasong junction. Around three hours later, police cracked down on the remaining protesters and arrested several protest leaders, including Anon and student activists Prasit Karutarote, Parit Chiwarak, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, and Nutchanon Pairoj, all of whom have since been denied bail.

The government also declared a severe state of emergency, which imposed a ban on gatherings of more than five people, allows state officials to arrest people and detain them for 30 days without informing them of the charges against them, and banned the publication of information that “could create fear,” affect national security, or damage public morale.

Hundreds of protesters began gathering at the Ratchaprasong Intersection ahead of the scheduled protest at 16.00. 

Despite the protest leaders’ arrest and the severe state of emergency, at 16.15, several hundred protesters began gathering at the Ratchaprasong intersection and took over the area after pushing back a line of police officers blocking the street.

Protesters flashed the three-finger 'Hunger Games' salute and shouted "free our friends" and "people die here." They took over the street from the intersection to the skywalk between Central World and Gaysorn Plaza.

The skywalk between Siam BTS station and Chit Lom BTS station was closed. 

The skywalk between Siam BTS Station and the Chit Lom Station was closed, while around 200 police officers were stationed in front of the nearby police headquarters. There were also officers stationed around the protest area and razor wire inside the wall of the police headquarters.

The protesters continued the demands of the 14 October protest, which called for prime minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha’s resignation, the dissolution of parliament, a new constitution, and reform of the monarchy. They also demanded the release of the arrested activists.

Police officers stationed in front of the police headquarters

Following an announcement from the police that they would disperse the crowd at 18.00, Panupong Jadnok, one of the few protest leaders remaining free, said that they would not be calling off the protest.

He told the protesters to sit down if the police tried to use violence and asked the authorities to arrest only him. The protesters shouted back that they won't let him be arrested.

At 18.00, crowd control units from Chiang Rai and Lampang were seen lining up in Soi Mahatlek Luang and walking towards the Ratchaprasong Intersection. They also appeared to be carrying batons.

Protesters turned on their phone flashlight at the area got dark. 

As the area got darker at nightfall, protesters turn on the flashlights on their phones and sat on the street listening to speeches while more participants continue to arrive, occupying the area.

There were reports of nearby shopping malls, including Central World, Gaysorn Plaza, and Siam Paragon, closing early due to the protest, and that the street lights next to Central World and Gaysorn Plaza were turned off. 

A group of students gathering at Chulalongkorn University's football field

Meanwhile, at nearby Chulalongkorn University, the student group Nisit Chula Party and its partner organizations held a parallel demonstration at the Monument of King Chulalongkorn and King Vajiravudh, located next to the university football field.

Student representatives took turn giving speeches, alternating with performances by a band from the Faculty of Political Science and announcements updating those present on the situation at the Ratchaprasong protest. They also announced that they would provide a safe space for protesters, and that they would be staying on campus until they were sure that the protest at Ratchaprasong had ended safely. The students said that, if there is a crackdown, protesters from Ratchaprasong should come into the university.

There were parallel protests in other provinces, including Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Hat Yai, Khon Kaen, and Uttaradit.

Protesters occupying the Ratchaprasong Intersection between Central World and Gaysorn Plaza

At 22.00, the organisers announced that the protest at Ratchaprasong is ending, and told the crowd to leave for the night. They also announced that they will be back at the same location at 17.00 on Friday (16 October).

Many news reports stated that tens of thousands of people joined the protest at Ratchaprasong.

7 more protesters arrested

At 00.24, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported 6 people were arrested at the Ratchaprasong rally and Taken to the Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters in Khlong Luang, Pathum Thani.

TLHR said that all 6 people were employees of an audio equipment rental company who provided speakers for the rally and came to the protest site to retrieve the equipment. They were arrested shortly before leaving.

Another protester was also arrested earlier in the afternoon, after he flashed the three-finger salute and shouted “slaves of the dictatorship” at police officers. He was also taken to the Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters.

According to iLaw, at least 45 people who participated in the protests between 13 – 15 October are now facing charges. Of this number, only one person, a 17-year-old activist arrested on 13 October, has so far been granted bail.  

Gallery

A line of police officers around Ratchaprasong intersection

Protesters on Ratchaprasong Intersection. One is holding a sign saying "free our heroes."

Protesters turning on their phone flashlights and turning them towards the line of police officers on Rama 1 Road.

A crowd gathering on the skywalk above Ratchaprasong intersection.

White ribbons, now a symbol of the student movement, were left hanging from the Ratchaprasong intersection sign.

A protester holding a placard saying "I'm not dust under who (sic) feet".

A protester is carrying a sign attached to their backpack which say "I won't a slave to anyone but to cats."