A crowd of around 500 gathered at the Pathumwan Skywalk yesterday evening (9 February), after the Criminal Court denied bail for activists Parit Chiwarak, Anon Nampa, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, and Patiwat Saraiyaem, who are being detained in prison pending trial and have been taken to the Bangkok Remand Prison.
Participants flashing the three-finger salute during the gathering at the Pathumwan Skywalk
The state prosecutor filed sedition and lèse majesté cases based on their speeches during the 19 – 20 September 2020 protest at Sanam Luang. They also face charges under the Act on Ancient Monuments, Antiques, Objects of Art and National Museums for breaking the concrete ground at Sanam Luang, which is recognized as a historic site, to embed the 2020 People’s Party plaque.
Lèse majesté cases have also been filed against Parit for his speech at the Mob Fest protest at the Democracy Monument on 14 November 2020.
By 19.00, a crowd had begun to form on the Pathumwan Skywalk. Many brought with them pots and other objects, which they beat during the event. A small set of amplifiers was also prepared for people to speak about their feelings following the reports of the activists’ detention.
Activist Thatchapong Kaedam said at the event that this is the start of another wave of protests, which have gone quiet due to the Covid-19 situation. He asked whether more people are living in poverty because of this government, and said that the people will no longer be afraid. He called on the police to stand with the people, and asked the people to use nonviolent means to show that they are not afraid.
At around 20.15, a group of police officers arrived at the gathering and began to read out an order prohibiting the gathering under the Emergency Decree, but the crowd booed them and banged pots and pans to pressure the officers to leave the area. Shortly after, the MBK Centre closed its connecting doors to the skywalk after the officers went inside the shopping mall.
Student activist Sirabhob Attohi also gave a speech at around 20.30 calling on the police to have some conscience and stop serving the dictatorship. Sirabhob also called for the repeal of Section 112 of the Criminal Code, and asked the crowd to stand against the unjust law, adding that, even though the monarchy has been a part of Thai society for a long time, it does not have to stay the same and that without change, it might fall in the end.
Student activist Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul then spoke about the detention of the four activists, saying that since they have been detained pending trial, they may be detained indefinitely until the court either grants them bail or dismisses their case. Panusaya said that she and a group of other activists have to meet with the public prosecutor on 17 February to see whether the public prosecutor will file cases against, and that she could be detained again.
Panusaya asked the court to rethink its ruling, and said that the protests won’t stop even though the protest leaders are detained.
At 21.00, Panusaya announced the gathering at the Pathumwan Skywalk has concluded, and that there will be another gathering at the same place today (10 February) at 17.00.