A protest took place at the Democracy Monument yesterday (13 February) to demand the release of four activists detained last week pending trial, as well as demanding the resignation of the prime minister, a new constitution, and monarchy reform.
A sign saying "Repeal 112" and "Free our friends" was put up in front of the Democracy Monument
The protest began at the Democracy Monument at around 15.00. Participants arrived with cooking utensils for making a noise, as well as signs calling for the repeal of Section 112 of the Criminal Code, Thailand’s lèse majesté law. The protest organizers also prepared a piece of red cloth, which was placed on the street in front of the Democracy Monument for people to write down messages.
Protesters clearing away the plant around the Democracy Monument
At 17.30, protesters began clearing away the decorative potted plants around the Democracy Monument. Around half an hour later, the piece of red cloth was wrapped around the monument.
“This is not an ordinary flag, but a flag on which the people have written down the problems they are facing in the country,” said a speaker on the nearby sound amplifier truck, “but these problems will never be solved if the government does not see them, so if you don't know what problems there are in this country, you can look here."
The speaker also said that the red cloth is symbolic of how they will not back down anymore, and that it represents struggle and the blood of those who fight for democracy.
The Democracy Monument being wrapped in red cloth
At 18.28, activist Atthapol Buapat spoke on the truck, which doubled as a stage, and said that there will be another protest if the four detained activists are not released within 7 days. He then announced that they would march to the Bangkok City Pillar Shrine.
At 19.00, units of riot control police were seen behind barriers and razor wire near Sanam Luang. Two water cannon trucks were also seen. As the procession arrived at the police barricade on the way to the City Pillar Shrine, a speaker on the truck asked the police to turn off the spotlight. Meanwhile, objects were seen thrown over the barricade. Firework like explosions were heard at the scene and smoke was also seen, at which point the police moved the water cannon trucks forward.
— Prachatai English (@prachatai_en) February 13, 2021
At 19.48, Atthapol asked the protesters to move back from the frontline, as the police had agreed to turn off the sound amplifiers and spotlights and to let them remove the razor wire as demanded. He also asked the police to be allowed to visit the City Pillar Shrine to ask for protection for the people.
Meanwhile, at the Democracy Monument, police officers and an explosive disposal team were seen in the area and were removing the red cloth from the monument.
The protest concluded at 20.25. Protesters began leaving the area, but groups of protesters remained by the police barriers. Activist Piyarat Chongtep announced through a speaker that the protest had ended, but some still remained. At 20.48, several protesters broke through the barrier, and the sound of fireworks was heard.
Some protesters are not leaving and once again broke through the barrier the police has set up, even though the protest organizers have announced that the protest has ended. #WhatsHappeningInThailand #นับหนึ่งให้ถึงล้าน #ม็อบ13กุมภา pic.twitter.com/Acptne8hAW
— Prachatai English (@prachatai_en) February 13, 2021
At 20.57, the police ordered the remaining protesters to leave by 21.30, or face arrest. They also asked reporters to leave the frontline. Meanwhile, at the Shrine of Mae Thorani on Ratchadamnoen Nai Avenue, flares were reportedly lit. The sound of fireworks was heard continuously from 21.00 on. At around 21.20, smoke was reportedly seen around the Rattanakosin Hotel while people were shouting for others to watch out for tear gas.
It was later reported that 7 – 8 people were arrested. A police spokesperson told reporters that they were taken to Chanasongkram Police Station, but lawyers from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) who went to the station found that they were not there. Meanwhile, Pol Col Attawit Saisueb, Deputy Chief of Metropolitan Police Division 1, said 11 people were arrested and taken to the Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters.
At 00.28 on Sunday (14 February), TLHR said the lawyers who went to the Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters were not allowed inside to meet with those who were arrested. They were finally allowed into the headquarters at 1.14. At 9.00, they reported that of the 11 people who were arrested, 3 were charged with causing a disturbance and received a fine of 100 baht each. They have now been released, while the remaining 8 people were charged with assembling in a group of 10 or more people and causing a breach of peace, not dispersing when ordered by an official, violating the Emergency Decree, and harming an official. They were denied bail and are being held at the Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters to be brought to the Criminal Court for a temporary detention order request on Monday (15 February).
TLHR also said that the people who were arrested also included a medical volunteer, a homeless person in the area, and a person who was waiting for a car in the area. Meanwhile, the medical volunteer group Doctor and Nurse Association said one of their members was reportedly beaten by riot police and detained, despite all members of the team wearing a vest identifying them as rescue workers.
Another member of the group told Khaosod English that the police didn’t believe he was a medic, so they beat him, searched his belongings, and took him away in a police car.
According to the Erawan Medical Centre, 20 people were injured during the protest. Piyarat also tweeted that one volunteer protest guard was shot near the Democracy Monument, likely by an anti-protester group.