Protesters gathered near the Grand Palace waiting to hand their letters to King Vajiralongkorn, saying that the monarchy needs reform.
Protesters in front of the Grand Palace. The large sign states "Calm down, chill out".
At 20.56, the protesters’ representative read their announcement. The main idea is that the King must take heed of critical voices from the people. [The text follows the original and has not been edited for language errors.]
With care, not cruelty
With well wish, not hatred
With hope, not fear
It is an absolute truth that all humans are both loved and loathed. Blood and roots do not judge whether a man should be loved or hated. Love and faith come from your own action.
A common man might have a choice to be surrounded by those who love and have faith in him. Even though it might turn out that around him are full of immoral, incompetent, obsequious people, still it is his choice.
However, a king cannot do so for he cannot choose between love and hatred.
It does not matter whether the people love the king or not, he must love them all the same.
If the king can talk to the people who love him, he must also talk to the people who do not all the same.
When you hear all the flattering praise from the people, you must also hear fearless criticisms and suggestions all the same.
When the king truly cherishes democracy, all people will find happiness.
The three demands from the people are the utmost compromise.
With power of equal human dignity,
The protesters then dispersed and left the protest site.
At 20.15 protesters succeeded in pushing aside the buses and vans in the blockade and made their way to the Grand Palace to submit their letters.
This followed negotiations between the Metropolitan Police chief and the protesters’ delegates. Red post boxes were set up for protesters to mail their letters, which are believed to have been passed on to the King.
The organizers invited people to submit letters at the Democracy Monument and the post boxes went with the march to Sanam Luang.
Activist Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon said that the letter writing activity was organised because they want those in power to listen to the voice of the people, and that they will be marching to submit the letters, but she would like the destination to be a surprise.
At 18.28 the police fired water cannon at protesters at the Grand Palace. According to some reports the police issued no warning before opening fire, enraging the crowd. Protest guards struggled to keep protesters away from the police lines.
Patsaravalee said that she would like the government to open up a safe space for people to voice their opinions, because she believes that there currently are too many issues for people to speak on behalf of each other.
She believes that every activity from now on will reflect political awareness. She said that, as citizens, we have enough power to speak about what issues there are and how to fix them.
"Right now the people don't need mediators, because mediators always leave out sensitive issues, but we insist that every demand must be discussed," said Patsaravalee.
"Personally, I think that setting up a reconciliation commission is just buying time and making themselves look good. If they were going to listen to us, they would have already done so earlier."
The moment when the water jet fired at the protesters. Media were reportedly hit by the water the most.
At least 3 were reported injured by the water cannon, all male, 2 civilians and 1 officer.
The police later issued an apology to the protesters, claiming an error in the command. The protesters were still furious at the police action.
There were reports that Bangkok Mass Transit Authority buses had been brought to block the road in front of the Grand Palace, as well as around 400 crowd control officers, 2 water cannon, and 1 water truck.
At 17.27, the Free Youth Movement announced on their Telegram channel that the protest march was heading to the Bureau of the Royal Household at the Grand Palace to submit their letters to the King.
Confrontation and attempts to prevent it
At 15.08 a small clash occurred after pro-democracy protesters flashed the three-finger salute when passing a royalist group who booed and shouted back.
Members of the royalist group could be seen trying to keep each other calm.
Volunteer protest guards were seen managing traffic on Ratchadamnoen Avenue and directing protesters so that they crossed to the other side of the road away from the royalist protest to avoid another clash. The royalists themselves were also telling pro-democracy protesters to cross the road so that the two groups did not pass each other.
Ratchaphon Khunnakhon, an former vocational student from Dusit Technical College came to the protest as part of a vocational guard team. He said around 100 vocational students from almost all the vocational schools in Bangkok joined the protest as guards to protect the protesters, although not all vocational students agreed with the protests.
Ratchaphon said some senior graduates and former members of the Krathing Daeng (Red Gaurs), an ultra-right wing paramilitary group set up by the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) who participated in the massacre of students on 6 October 1976, threatened their juniors not to participate in the protest. However, students these days have different opinions due to their different way of accessing news.
Ratchaphon said vocational students have often been asked by their seniors to attend various protests as guards. He too, was asked by his seniors to be a guard for the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) or yellow shirt protests in the past.
An armband of the Democratic Cog group.
Vocational students formed the “Democratic Cog” group during the red shirt protests in 2010 and this network still persists today, bringing in vocational students as pro-democracy protest guards. The students have argued with their seniors who hold different ideologies to the point of abandoning each other on social media.
The vocational student guard serves in line with other guards to come up with an action plan. In this protest, there were 5 different guard groups, working in the field independently of each other.
Vocational schools are widely known in Thailand for their inter-school rivalry which has often involved violence. However, Ratchaphon said in this protest, many schools joined hands together and left their bloodied history behind.
We love the king...
Nok (pseudonym) was seen distributing stickers which Thais perhaps feel familiar with. The sticker states “We love the King” with the same layout as stickers that were widely distributed after the death of King Rama IX.
But these stickers come with an addition:
“We love a King that allows us to check on him.”
“We love a King that spends taxes in a worthwhile way.”
“We love a King that does not endorse coups.”
Nok said she received this sticker design from a creative designer group. She said that people who do not join the protests seem not to understand the protesters' demands, especially the 10 demands on monarchy reform. If they read the 10 demands, they would find out that the protesters do not mean to overthrow the monarchy.
She stated that if the monarchy was reformed in line with the 10 demands, it would be able to exist with dignity under democratic values. She also wants those who love the monarchy without any reason to try to be reasonable. People on both sides should overlook hate speech against each other’s main idea.