Car protests flood the roads, demanding PM’s resignation

The third ‘Car Mob’ has been held in at least 30 places around Thailand demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha. A variety of campaigns joined the protest.

Participants in the Car Mob on a truck.

The car protest was originally organized by veteran activist Sombat Boonngarmanong but this time more groups joined the movement, like the United People for Thailand, a group that campaigns for monarchy reform like Ratsadorn, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship or the red shirts, and Seri Toey Plus campaigning on gender diversity issues.

Similar activities were held this weekend in Ubon Ratchathani, Sakon Nakhon, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Chiang Rai, Phrae, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Surat Thani, Kanchanaburi, Saraburi, Rayong, Chonburi, and elsewhere.

A bystander in Nakhon Pathom flashes a 3-finger salute in support of the movement.

In Bangkok, different activist groups started from 5 main points: Don Muang Airport, Silom Soi 2, Ratchaprasong intersection, Democracy Monument and Ram Intra Road. All vehicles headed to Vibhavadi Rangsit Road to express their message.

The main communication channel for this movement was the Clubhouse application, where the organizers and coordinators usually urge vehicles to form up, not to honk while passing hospitals or field hospitals and to leave lanes open for emergency vehicles. 

Student activist Parit Chiwarak a gave a speech criticizing the Prayut-led government’s incompetence which has resulted in the country’s misfortune. While the government was taking care of the elite, it ignored the people.

“Prayut is only interested in capitalists such as Tycoon Charoen (owner of ThaiBev) and Tycoon Thanin (CP). He’s only interested in being a dog and how to flatter his owner.

“Prayut is not here because the people, but because of the dog owner who looks after him. The people are left to their fate. The sick are lying down, waiting for death at home. Those who are not sick are lying down, thinking whether to be vaccinated.

“The tyrannical regime government with Prayut as PM and the King as Head of State must all take responsibility. Whether Prayut, Prawit, Anupong, Anutin, Jurin, they must take responsibility by giving up power, by not taking any position and by leaving the country,” said Parit.

Leading red shirt Nattawut Saikeur gave a speech before his group left the rally point at Ratchaprasong intersection, underlining the government’s failure in handling the Covid-19 pandemic which has caused many to die and brought many dissidents onto the street. 

He also urged Gen Prayut, who was part of the Centre for Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES) that took part in killing red shirt protesters in 2010, to resign from the Prime Ministership.

Nattawut gives a speech at Ratchaprasong Intersection.

“Red buffaloes, the uneducated, the hired mob, those who were shot to death on the street more than 10 years ago, today have come back to tell Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and his cronies who were in CRES and who were in power during the crackdown on the people, to get out now, for the survival of the Thai people countrywide in the Covid-19 crisis,” said Nattawut.

Human rights lawyer Anon Nampa gave a speech opposing the idea of having a ‘royally endorsed PM’ to replace Gen Prayut. He said the change must be made to the root cause. The next leader must be democratically elected from the people. He urged the movement to progress with civil disobedience.

“Peaceful means is not sitting down and letting the police use their batons to hit you on the head. Peaceful means are all kinds of action that make the government and those in power so worried and agitated and uneasy that they cannot stay.

“Things that you have never seen, citizens will do them. It will happen in the heart of Bangkok. And what have you been worshipping, have been enchanted with, after this will not be there for you to see,” said Anon before promoting the next protest on 7 August.

Arrests, clashes and commotion

Fully equipped riot control police were spotted at many places that the protesters intended to pass, like Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue, Sutthisan intersection and behind the Veterans General Hospital on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road. 

A container blockade was set up on Vibhavadi Rangsit outbound, blocking the entrance to Gen Prayut's house in the 1st Royal Infantry Regiment.

At 18.00, the police dispersed the remaining protesters on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, using tear gas, rubber bullets and force. The protesters could be seen retreating and retaliating by throwing fireworks and unidentified objects that caused fires.

At 12.30, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that 8 protesters had been arrested at Rattanathibet, Nonthaburi. They had been taken to Rattanathibet Police Station and charged with violating the Emergency Decree, causing a noise in public without proper reason and the use of unauthorized voice amplifiers before being taken to the Border Patrol Police (BPP) Region 1 Headquarters for detention. They were released at 18.30.

The BPP Region 1 Headquarters in Pathum Thani has been used to detain protesters during the State of Emergency declared in 2020. Although there is no legal provision allowing the police to investigate and detain people there, people have been sent to this distant office from time to time.

Clashes reportedly took place at Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue and Nang Loeng at 15.30. About 8 people were seen throwing objects. 2 rubber bullets were reportedly fired. Fireworks were reportedly thrown at the front of 1st Regiment Infantry barracks by unidentified protesters according to communications on Clubhouse.

Miscommunication sows confusion

The massive numbers of vehicles joining from many areas seemed to make organization difficult. Sombat and others could be heard trying to reform the procession. Sombat later admitted on Clubhouse that he was not able to direct the movement and that not having the kind of concrete goals of previous protests had sowed confusion among drivers over what to do. 

He said he would reflect on the problem to improve the activity in the future.

After a slight delay beyond the proposed end time, the procession finally took shape on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road before Sombat announced the conclusion of the protest at about 16.30, saying the protest will take place again if Gen Prayut still clings on to the Prime Ministership.

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