The calm before the storm: pictures from the 20 March protest at Sanam Luang

Photos by Anna Lawattanatrakul, Kotcharak Kaewsurach, and Rattanaporn Khamenkit

On 20 March, a protest took place at Sanam Luang, organised by the activist group REDEM, to demand limits on the power of the monarchy, the demilitarization of politics, and universal social welfare, as well as to demand the release of imprisoned activists. After attempting to remove a long barrier of containers placed across Sanam Luang, the protesters were met with rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannon blasts during a 4-hour long clash with crowd control police. 32 people were arrested and 33 people were injured. 

Before the clash, however, the event was peaceful. People were seen flying kites spray-painted with the pictures of activists currently imprisoned on charges relating to political activities, as well as messages such as “Free our friends” and “Abolish Section 112”, raising banners and spraying the ground with graffiti.

The following pictures were taken by Prachatai’s field reporters during the protest, before the clash began.

A group of protesters were seen dancing and singing earlier in the evening.

A man who is often seen at protests dressed as a statue came to Sanam Luang with the message “Free our friends” written on his face.

A protester was seen skateboarding during the early part of the protest.

A booklet containing human rights lawyer Anon Nampa’s speech on monarchy reform was handed out during the protest.

A protester folded a piece of paper into a paper plane to be thrown across the container barrier towards the Grand Palace in a symbolic action addressing the issue of limiting the power of the monarchy under the constitution.

A protester was seen attempting several times to throw a paper plane across the container barrier.

Members of the artists’ network Free Arts spraying painting the message “Free our friends” onto a yellow kite – one of many which were seen flying above Sanam Luang.

A protester holding a kite spray-painted with the message “abolish Section 112”

A protester is seen flying a kite spray-painted with a picture of activist Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa, who is currently in prison.

A kite spray-painted with an image of Anon Nampa, who is also currently in prison, was seen flying above Sanam Luang.

A protester lighting a candle sitting on a coconut shell, several of which were placed on the ground to form the number 112.

A large piece of white cloth was placed on the ground at Sanam Luang for protesters to write messages on.

Advertisements

Since 2007, Prachatai English has been covering underreported issues in Thailand, especially about democratization and human rights, despite the risk and pressure from the law and the authorities. However, with only 2 full-time reporters and increasing annual operating costs, keeping our work going is a challenge. Your support will ensure we stay a professional media source and be able to expand our team to meet the challenges and deliver timely and in-depth reporting.

• Simple steps to support Prachatai English

1. Bank transfer to account “โครงการหนังสือพิมพ์อินเทอร์เน็ต ประชาไท” or “Prachatai Online Newspaper” 091-0-21689-4, Krungthai Bank

2. Or, Transfer money via Paypal, to e-mail address: service@prachatai.com, please leave a comment on the transaction as “For Prachatai English”