The crowd on Wednesday swelled in the late afternoon as the march gained momentum and security forces were consistently forced to retreat before what was a determined but essentially peaceful march. The protest has also resulted in worldwide press coverage where students spoke of a battle against conservatism.
The Thai government had a new crisis on its hands-on Wednesday night after the pro-democracy rally during the day succeeded in forcing its way to Government House with a turnout that indicates more popular support than had previously been thought for the student-led protest and their demands. The protest is now camped outside Government House, from where reporters and officials are understood to have been removed earlier in the day. The situation is now fraught with potential danger and is bound to cause the government to rethink its approach to the situation. On Wednesday night, a Progressive Movement leader and former Secretary-General of the now-banned Future Forward Party, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, arrived at the scene near the seat of power and called on Thai Prime Minister, General Prayut Chan ocha, to resign after the day’s events.
The Thai government’s efforts to control the anti-government rally on Wednesday fell into disarray as the swollen crowd participating in the demonstration appeared to defy predictive estimates of 10,000 people given on Monday by military intelligence.
Some protesters, perhaps buoyed by today’s success, have suggested that a crowd of up to 100,000 turned out but while it may not have reached this level, it was certainly well in excess of what police and government officials had prepared for.
Vanguard protest put down yesterday by riot police
The protest may have been given some impetus by the confrontation on Tuesday afternoon between riot police and a vanguard of protesters sent to Ratchadamnoen Avenue out of fears of causing offence by protesting in sight of the Royal Motorcade of the Thai King.
Democracy monument retaken by the people
Commencing on Wednesday afternoon, the crowd swelled and after invading the Democracy Monument structure in the centre of Bangkok by removing planted shrubbery, the crowd, led by an improvised blue truck, with its leaders on the back, set off for Government House nearby.
The occupation of the shrine to Thai democracy by protesters waving red flags was symbolically important to the rally’s leadership and appeared to spur the confidence of the crowd.
Yellow shirted soldiers seen at the scene
Initially stopped by police at Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue, the protest instead headed to Government House via the Nakhon Sawan Road in Bangkok in what was a noisy but orderly movement.
Opposite Democracy Monument on Wednesday, were yellow-clad men who were termed, royalists. To many observers, they appeared to be military personnel as they sported identical boots, trousers and haircuts while wearing yellow shirts. One man had a walkie talkie communications device.
The King of Thailand later drove by his supporters in a motorcade heading from the Dusit Palace in Bangkok, his preferred residence to the Grand Palace where he presided over a religious ceremony.
Buses used to try and thwart the march on Nakhon Sawan Road but the march moved on after talks
On Nakhon Sawan Road, the march was met by four passenger buses blocking the route.
Initially, frustrated and chanting protesters began to grapple with the vehicles until they were warned off by their leaders to show restraint.
Key protest leaders, during the day, included Arnon Nampa and Parit Chiwarak also known as the Penguin.
In highly charged speeches, the protest leaders called on Thai people to fly flags and wear ribbons in support of the democracy movement nationwide.
New police cordon on Phitsanulok Road also quickly fell back as the huge crowd marched on
The leadership of the march then negotiated with police following the standoff and the march proceeded again to Phitsnbaulok Road where police had devised a new cordon.
However, the surging crowd which had been growing throughout the afternoon, soon became impossible to hold back and police retreated.
Protest in the name of Khana Ratsadorn or People’s Party flew a red flag with a symbol at the centre
The protest on Wednesday represented an amalgamation of students from Thammasat University led by the Penguin or Mr Parit and the Free People movement led by Mr Nampa.
Today, the protester’s flew a red flag with a gold symbol at the centre. This was seen on the blue lorry with loudspeakers transporting the leadership.
The gold symbol appeared to be quite similar to the plaque left by the student leadership at its latest protest on September 19th and 20th which was subsequently removed by persons unknown.
Today’s protest leadership has styled itself as the People’s Party or Khana Ratsadorn which was the name of the group which led the 1932 peaceful revolution in Thailand which abolished absolute rule in what was then the Kingdom of Siam and established Thailand as a constitutional monarchy.
Repeated calls for the removal of Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha from office resonated everywhere
The student leadership is calling for the removal of the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha and a new constitution to replace the 2017 one as well as an end to harassment of political activists. More controversially, it insists on calling for reform of the Thai monarchy to constrain it within constitutional provisions.
The last few months have seen an unprecedented situation where the country’s highest institution has been drawn into politics which is something deeply disturbing for many Thais and unfortunate for the country.
We are opening a timeline and live reporting session on the protests accompanied by news reports, bulletins and videos which will be updated as the protest activity progresses.
It is now reported that the protesters are settled in on Phitsanulok Road outside Government Buildings for the next three to five days in order to secure their goals including the fall of the government.
Today’s outcome appears to dash claims that the student movement lacks public support
Today’s outcome takes the protest movement a step further and has defied predictions that today would see it fizzle out or suppressed due to lack of public support.
This was the line taken by pro-government MPs in parliament following the peaceful outcome to the September 19th protest.
All the evidence today points to a growing crowd flocking to the protest march as the crowds swelled.
It certainly appears that the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha has suffered a blow which has just added to the sense of crisis in the country already confronted by the virus emergency and severe, Covid driven, economic challenges.
The protest rally is also receiving worldwide international press coverage with global networks interviewing English speaking students who appear to be articulating their opposition to the country’s conservatism.
7.30 pm Wednesday – The leaders of the People’s Party movement have said that they will not let Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chanocha return to work at Government House as they call on him to resign and promise to camp outside the complex in the coming days. They have also reported their calls for a new constitution and an end to the power of the unelected Thai Senate, handpicked by the establishment.
7.40 pm Wednesday – Protestors have confronted military officers laying barbed wire in front of a military building on Ratchadamnoen Nok Road near the scene of today’s protests.
7.50 pm Wednesday – It is reported that Government House has been closed and will not open on Thursday. Protest leaders are calling for an emergency parliamentary s session to usher in a new constitution while also calling for the government to resign and for the release of 19 protestors, still in detention since being arrested yesterday.
8.00 pm Wednesday – Police are warning that all protestors currently in place near Government House may still face arrest as rumours swirl of response to today’s events and crackdown against all protestors.
8.26 pm Wednesday – Parit Chiwarak or the Penguin ha claimed that on Wednesday over 100,000 people came out and suggested that the figure may even have been 200,000. He declared Government House now the ‘People’s House’. He appeared to indicate plans to turn the location into a focus for the ongoing protest.
11.03 pm Wednesday – The Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha through a spokesman has said that he has given strict orders to the police and security services to not to refrain for dong their duty particularly when it comes to any action which may cause offence to the monarchy. The PM has said that Wednesday’s protest would be treated as unrest and an effort to undermine the administration of the state and the peace of the nation.
11.30 pm Wednesday – Arch conservative and royalist, Major General Rienthong Nanna, has sent out a chilling message on Facebook calling for forces to be ready to surround Bangkok and ‘take out the waste’ following events in the capital on Wednesday. He wanted that everyone involved in the protest will be arrested and every person behind that person also. The arch royalist is known for his hardline and uncompromising talk against those who may oppose the monarchy and it is not clear what the basis for his latest remarks are. In July, Major General Rienna, now a hospital director, called for photos for all those at anti-government rallies to be sent to him so that he could identify hose involved and place them on a blacklist.
11.40 pm Wednesday – Government spokesman, Anucha Buraphachaisri, has told the media that the Prime Minister is imploring parents and relations of those who may be involved in the current sit-in surrounding Government House to request that their loved ones disengage from the protest immediately. Mr Anucha said that the PM was particularly concerned for young people. He warned that they may face danger in the current situation that may arise.
00.05 pm Thursday – Lieutenant Colonel Kritsana Phattanacharoen of the Royal Thai Police has warned the protesters at Government House that the law will be upheld and explained that this was an opportunity to withdraw before enforcement action was taken. He said that the protesters had been earned to vacate the area by 10 pm on Wednesday and some had already been arrested. He said that the decision to take decisive action was for his superiors and that while the police force had shown it was open to negotiations on Wednesday, the law must now take its course.