6 days after crackdown, tens of thousands return to oust Gen Prayut

The people have made 21 October another historic moment in Thai political history as leaderless protesters marched almost completely peacefully past police blockades to Government House. 

A big banner states "Go home and meet again" after the protesters gave the resignation letter to the PM delegate.

The night ended with a delegate from the PM’s Secretariat receiving an unsigned draft resignation letter in the name of the PM with a 3-day deadline for Prayut to quit and release all arrested protesters.

At 21.30, after almost an hour in front of the Government House, a Deputy Secretary-General of the PM’s Secretariat and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner accepted a resignation letter for Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha from Korakot Saengyenphan, the protesters’ representative. 

The reception of the resignation letter by the deputy PM secretariat.

Dated 21 October 2020, the letter is addressed to ‘The People’ and reads as follows:

"Whereas I, Prayut Chan-o-cha, have used arbitrary power, bought and sold votes, threatened to impose a gangster’s constitution, traded benefits and positions and used the institution of the monarchy as a justification to get hold of the position of the Prime Minister,

"In order to maintain the dignity of my family, the dignity of the position of Prime Minister and the dignity of the country and to express my respect for the people who hold sovereign power, I, Mr Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister, hereby resign from the position of the Prime Minister."

The protesters also demanded an end to the prosecutions of protesters and leading figures. The protesters dispersed at 21.36.

After the protest, Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon, a student activist from the Mahanakhon group, was arrested and taken to the Border Patrol Police Region 1 Headquarters at 23.00.

One week previous at the same site, a protest led by the People’s Party 2020 occupied the street in front of Government House, only to be forcibly dispersed by the police before dawn. After that, the number of protesters has only seemed to increase in Bangkok and other provinces. Even more joined the fray after the police forcibly dispersed the protest on 16 October.

State of emergency declared, protest dispersed before sunrise

Police fire water cannon at pro-democracy protesters in Bangkok

On 21 October, protestors started to gather at the Victory Monument at around 15.30 before gradually occupying the roundabout. This was the sixth day of leaderless mobile protests arranged with very short notice of the place and time.

Protesters distributing safety helmets.

The reason that the protests are leaderless is that most of the leading figures have been arrested and the protestors have adopted a strategy where ‘everyone is a leader’. 

This also means that the police find it hard to chase the protesters down, although in this protest, the police were ready to block the way to Government House.

"My tax", the message stated.

At 17.38, the protesters started moving from the Victory Monument to the Phaya Thai intersection, around 1 km away.

The United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD), one of the protest organizers, stated that the protest would march to Government House, where the protest was dispersed on 15 Oct at dawn, a prelude to the crackdown on 16 October at Pathum Wan.

Another protest was taking place at the same time at Ramkhamhaeng University which was confronted by a yellow-clad, pro-monarchy rally group that claimed to be there first. The pro-monarchy side breached the barrier set up by the police and assaulted pro-democracy protesters. Protesters decided to change the protest site to Huamark Police Station.

Middle: a student whom the pro-monarchy group threw the speaker at filing a complaint to the police. Her knee and left feet was injured.

Wara Chanmanee, a protester who was chased out of Ramkamhaeng University, said he felt sad about the assault by the yellow-clad group, which reminded him of the 6 October 1976 massacre. A victim of the assault later filed a complaint with the police.

March to Government House

As the protestors arrived at Phaya Thai intersection, a pro-monarchy group blocked the way. After a short pause, protesters proceeded to Government House along Phetchaburi Road, chanting "Free our friends", referring to arrested protesters.

A big banner states "Keep walking forward". Recent leaderless protesters came up with a way to communicate with each other such as hand signs, shouting en masse or large banner like this.

4 lanes of Phetchaburi Road were packed with protesters. At Uruphong intersection, protesters met the first line of defence, comprising police in riot control gear, razor wire and barriers. With further blockades ahead, the protesters spend most time sorting out the confrontation here.

Police blockade at the Uruphong intersection.

At 19.23, there was a minor clash as the protesters on the front line were pushed from behind, causing some commotion. The confrontation ended after protesters from Nang Loeng intersection approached the police from the rear. After that, the police abandoned their position and other defence lines failed to contain the protesters.

Another line of defense after Uruphong intersection.

Some protesters wounded from falling into the razor wire or during the commotion were tended by volunteer medics.

The march reached Government House at about 20.00 where police vans, public buses, lines of police, water cannon and voice amplifier trucks blocked the entrance to the Government House at Panitchayakan bridge.

Yellow-clad group of people stationed along Ratchadamnoen Nok road. They are believed to be soldiers.

PM asks people to ‘take a step back together’

As the protesters were marching to the Government House, Gen Prayut made a television address regarding the political situation and protests. He urged the protesters to solve the conflict via the parliamentary debate scheduled for 26-27 October. He also asked the government and the protesters to “each take a step back” and “find solutions to the problems.”

The PM also said that he is prepared to revoke the severe state of emergency in Bangkok, declared at 04.00 on 15 Oct to control the protest.  “I am currently preparing to lift the state of severe emergency in Bangkok and will do so promptly if there are no violent incidents.”

“The only way to a lasting solution for all sides that is fair for those on the streets as well as for the many millions who choose not to go on the streets, is to discuss and resolve these differences through the parliamentary process,” said Prayut.

In his speech, the PM also alleged that during the forcible police dispersal of the protest on 16 October at Pathum Wan, “We saw terrible crimes being committed against the police using metal rods and huge cutting implements in brutal attacks.”  No media reports at the time mentioned any such attacks.