The activist group Thalufah have held a protest against the government’s mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic and calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha for the third consecutive day, despite previous protests being forcibly dispersed by crowd control police.
Effigies were hung from the model of the Constitution above the Democracy Monument (Picture from Mob Data)
The group gathered on 18 August at the Democracy Monument, where they brought effigies representing those who died from Covid-19 and the government’s failure to manage the pandemic. The effigies were piled up in front of the Monument, as well as hung from the model of the palm-leaf manuscript representing the Constitution.
Effigies representing the cabinet were placed in front of the Democracy Monument and were later burned (Picture from Mob Data)
At 18.00, after a series of speeches, protesters held up the three-finger ‘Hunger Games’ salute while the National Anthem played, followed by a minute of silence in memory of those who died from Covid-19.
This was then followed by an open mic session where protesters are invited to speak and express their discontent about the government.
At 19.20, the protesters burned effigies of the cabinet as a symbolic act of protest against the failures of the Prayut administration, and then danced around the bonfire. The protest concluded at around 19.30.
Protesters dancing around the bonfire (Picture from Mob Data)
Following the conclusion of the protest, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) reported that activist Thanadet Srisongkhram, a leader of the vocational school student network Gear of Democracy: Vocational Protection of the People for Democracy, was arrested and detained at the Nang Loeng intersection after he spoke at the protest calling for vocational school students joining protests not to use violence.
TLHR said it is likely that Thanadet was arrested on charges relating to violation of the Emergency Decree, but it is unclear about the incident for which he was charged.
The march from Ratchaprasong to the police headquarters (Picture from Mob Data)
This is the first of Thalufah’s protests in the past week to conclude without being forcibly dispersed by crowd control police, after the march to the Government House on Monday (16 August) was blocked at the Nang Loeng Intersection and dispersed by crowd control police armed with water cannon trucks and tear gas.
The group also marched from the Ratchaprasong intersection to the police headquarters at around 16.00 yesterday (17 August) to protest against the use of violence to disperse protests, while holding up images of police operations during recent protests.
Protesters then threw paint at the police headquarters sign. The police then retaliated by firing water cannon. Several firecracker-like sounds were also heard while one of the organisers announced via a loudspeaker that the protesters must throw only paint.
Water cannon blasts were fired at protesters in front of the police headquarters (Picture from Mob Data)
At around 16.25, crowd control police moved out of the police headquarters and lined up on the footpath, while Thalufah immediately announced the conclusion of the protest. The protesters retreated to the Ratchaprasong intersection in heavy rain, while crowd control police lined up near Central World, blocking the intersection.
Police armed with shields and rubber bullet firearms later rode pick-up trucks into the intersection and dispersed of the protesters, who were dancing to show that they were peaceful.
TLHR reported that 6 people were arrested during the 17 August protest. They were charged with violating the Emergency Decree and were granted bail without requiring security. They must also report to the Pathumwan Municipal Court on 17 September 2021.
Crowd control police in full riot gear coming out of the police headquarters
Meanwhile, as the protest at the Democracy Monument was taking place, an unaffiliated group of protesters went to the Din Daeng intersection, where they once again clashed with crowd control police.
The protesters were reported to be throwing objects at the row of containers blocking the Din Daeng intersection, while the police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at them.
The Din Daeng intersection has been the site of clashes between groups of protesters and crowd control police for the past two weeks. During the clash on Monday (16 August), 13 people were arrested, including minors and bystanders, while 2 teenagers were shot with live rounds near Din Daeng Police Station; one of them is still in a critical condition.