Thai pro-democracy protesters defy ban for fourth straight day

Anti-government protests persisted in Bangkok for the fourth straight day despite the severe state of emergency which bans mass gatherings, the order to shut down Bangkok’s electric rail systems, and the use of water cannons to crack down on the protest at Pathumwan intersection on 16 October, with at least 20 parallel protests taking place in other provinces.

The protest at Victory Monument on 18 October. 

At around 14.00, the student activist group Free Youth asked all protesters to be on standby at any BTS or MRT station at 15.00, cheekily asking “where shall we meet today?”, before announcing at around 15.10 for people to meet at the Victory Monument and the Asoke intersection.

They also announced locations of parallel protests in Pathum Thani, Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi, Saraburi, Sing Buri, Suphan Buri, Prachinburi, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Yasothon, Udon Thani, Sisaket, Kalasin, Chachoengsao, Chonburi, Rayong, and Phuket.

These provinces are not under the severe state of emergency, which was declared only in the Bangkok area.

Prior to the protests, the MRT announced the closure of five stations on the blue line: Hua Lamphong, Lumphini, Sukhumvit, Pahon Yothin, and Chatuchak Park. Meanwhile, the BTS announced that the government has issued an order under the Emergency Decree to close 10 stations on both lines: Phahon Yothin 24, Ha Yaek Lat Phrao, Mo Chit, Asok, Udom Suk, and Bang Na on the Sukhumvit line, and Chong Nonsi, Surasak, Krung Thon Buri, and Wongwian Yai on the Silom line.

At 16.00, protesters were already gathering at the Victory Monument, while the Victory Monument BTS Station had closed. Police officers were seen on the skywalk around the Monument.

By 17.30, protesters had filled the roundabout on the south side heading towards Phaya Thai, the east side heading to Din Daeng, and the west side in front of Rajavithi Hospital.

In a move reminiscent of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement, protesters were carrying umbrellas and were seen wearing raincoats, face masks, helmets, and goggles. Those who would be on the frontlines in a crackdown were given helmets, goggles, and bottles of water. Protesters also formed a human chain to pass umbrellas to the people at the front of the rally. They also learned hand signals to communicate with each other across the protest site.

Protesters could be seen holding up pictures of arrested activists, including Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa, Parit Chiwarak, Anon Nampa, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Ekkachai Hongkangwan, and Chaiamorn “Ammy” Kaewwiboonpan, to demand their release.

A protester holding a picture of Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul

At 18.20, protesters were heard shouting for the volunteer protest guards to come to the Ratchawithi Road side of the intersection, as they had been told a water cannon truck was coming. However, a Prachatai reporter in the area checked and did not see any truck or police units. Protesters also said they saw around 50 police officers standing on Phaya Thai Road.

There was a report at 19.00 that 6 water cannon trucks were spotted on Phitsanulok Road, but they were not moving. Police officers were also reported to be standing by in buses.

The protest at the Victory Monument ended at around 20.20 with no use of force from the authorities.

Parallel protest at Asok intersection

Protesters at the Asoke Intersection

Meanwhile, at the Asok intersection, protesters gathered on the street near Terminal 21. Volunteers were seen reviewing various hand signals with protesters, such as crossing their middle and index finger and holding their hand above their head, which means that they are being assaulted or arrested, or pointing their index finger up and moving their hand in a circle, which is a signal telling other protesters to run.

Activist Sombat Boonngamanong was present at the protest at Asok, and said that the protests which had taken place in the last two or three days showed some characteristics of horizontality, and that they are more self-managed protests.

A piece of paper stating the movement's three demands was taped to a pole. 

A piece of paper was found taped to a pole, stating the three demands of the pro-democracy movement: Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha's resignation, a new people's constitution, and monarchy reform.

By 18.00, traffic on the Asok Montri Road was blocked as protesters occupied the entire street. However, Terminal 21 remained open. Protesters also sang the national anthem while flashing the three-finger salute, before shouting "Fuck you Tuu!" and "Prayut get out!"

At 18.35, there was a report of around three units of crowd control police and Border Patrol Police as well as police cars carrying shields and other equipment seen near the Benjakitti Park.

The protest at Asok intersection ended at 19.50 with no use of force from the authorities and within ten minutes, traffic had resumed.

Protesters flashing the three-finger 'Hunger Games' salute as they march from the Imperial World Samrong shopping centre to the Bangna Intersection.

Another protest took place at the Bang Na intersection. At 15.45, protesters began gathering in front of the Imperial World Samrong in Samut Prakan, and later walked to the protest site at Bang Na intersection.

At 17.35, 16 police vans with dark windows containing crowd control units were seen heading towards the protest site at Bang Na, but the protesters formed a line to block the road and shouted at them to get out. The vans then headed back towards Udom Suk.

At 20.10, a small clash took place at the Bang Na intersection when the street lights were turned off. Protesters shouted for the lights to be turned back on and someone threw a bottle at the nearby police post, breaking a window. Many protesters cheered, while others tried to stop the confrontation.

At 20.20, a representative of the protesters read out the movement’s three demands. They also thanked the polytechnic students who joined the protest, and stated that the protest was peaceful.

The protest at Bang Na intersection ended at 20.35 with no further incident.

In addition to the provinces mentioned above, protests also took place in Amnat Charoen, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Tak, Chanthaburi, and Phitsanulok.