Protest at Ratchaprasong demand justice after police crackdown

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters gathered at the Ratchaprasong intersection yesterday evening (18 November) before marching to the nearby national police headquarters to demand justice following the police crackdown on the protest at the parliament compound on Tuesday (17 November).

Protesters at the Ratchaprasong Intersection flashing the three-finger salute

The protesters began gathering at the Ratchaprasong intersection at around 15.00. At 15.50, police officers came to issue a warning to the protesters that, as they had not notified the authorities of the protest as required by the Public Assembly Act, they must disperse by 16.15.

By 16.05, protesters had occupied the intersection, closing off traffic on both sides. Meanwhile, the Arts Student Committee, Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University announced that the faculty’s Maha Chakri Sirindhorn building, which is accessible through the gates on the Henri Dunant Road, had been designated a safe zone in case of a crackdown, and that they would provide clean water, saline solution, and first-aid equipment.

At 17.14, protesters were seen bringing in inflatable rubber ducks to the protest site at Ratchaprasong. Images of the ducks went viral on the internet the night before after they were used by protesters at the Kiak Kai Intersection, near the parliament compound, as makeshift shields against water cannon blasts.

Giant inflatable ducks were seen at the Ratchaprasong protest

A small group of protesters was also seen near the wall around the police headquarters, as they shouted at the officers stationed inside the wall calling for them to stand with the people and calling them out for the authorities’ use of force against the protesters at parliament.

Protesters standing for the national anthem while flashing the three-finger salute

At 18.13, the protesters stood for the national anthem while giving the three-finger ‘Hunger Games’ salute. At 18.20, protesters in front of the Police General Hospital began lining up to march to the police headquarters, led by a group of protesters carrying inflatable ducks.

Protesters marching to the police headquarters while carrying inflatable ducks

Prior to the protest, there were reports of riot police being stationed inside the police headquarters, as well as water cannon trucks. The gates around the police headquarters were also chained, blocked with concrete blocks and trucks, and guarded by police officers carrying shields and batons.

The police headquarters gates were blocked with trucks

Groups of protesters were seen throwing paint at the police headquarters sign, as well as spray-painting the walls and gates as a response to the crackdown on 18 November. They also used chalks to write messages on the street in front of Central World.

Protesters in front of the police headquarters also shouted insults at the officers stationed inside. Some sprayed water at the officers with water pistols, but were stopped by other protesters, while the volunteer protest guards tried to keep protesters from getting too close to the headquarters wall.

Protesters gathering near the police headquarters

The protest concluded at 20.20, after student activist Panupong Jadnok announced that there will be another demonstration on 25 November at the Crown Property Bureau. Student activist Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul also made the same announcement on her social media accounts, as did the student activist group Free Youth.

The protest took place while parliament was voting on the first reading of the 7 constitutional amendment drafts. Only 2 drafts were accepted by parliament, both of which proposed to amend Section 256 of the constitution to establish a Constitutional Drafting Committee. The difference between the two drafts is that, in the draft proposed by the government coalition, some members of the Committee are appointed, while in the draft proposed by the opposition, excluding the Move Forward Party, all committee members are elected.

The draft constitutional amendments proposed by iLaw and endorsed by over 100,000 members of the public, now known as the “people’s draft,” did not pass as it did not get enough votes from the senate.