Senior police officers fired after Wednesday’s debacle with reports that an operation centre led by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan will be established to restore law and order with sweeping new powers announced at 4 am on Thursday. On Thursday evening at 10.30 pm, the revived protest came to a peaceful conclusion in front of watchful police lines.
Following the crackdown and suppression of the anti-government protest early on Thursday morning, fresh disturbances broke out in Bangkok on Thursday evening as a new protest rally took place near the scene of yesterday’s large march on Government House. The crowd at the gathering were told that key protest leaders had been denied bail at a court sitting while there were reports that human rights lawyer and key leader, Arnon Nampa, had been taken by police helicopter to face legal proceedings in Chiang Mai reportedly in connection with sedition charges against him.
There was a sizable crowd gathering on Thursday evening in the centre of Bangkok in defiance of the government and a newly declared state of severe emergency.
Some estimates put the number in the thousands. The crowd heard from speakers including one of the key protest leaders, Panupong Jadnok, who appeared to be at liberty on Thursday despite a report that he had also been arrested on Thursday morning during the crackdown. He called for restraint and peaceful protest.
The Thai government promulgated a new decree at 4 am on Thursday, October 15th, declaring a state of severe emergency in Bangkok giving the government sweeping powers to quell and suppress an anti-government demonstration that on Wednesday had led to the surrounding of Government House in Bangkok causing officials severe embarrassment.
Yesterday’s events reportedly led to the dismissal of three senior police officers held responsible for allowing the protest to proceed to the seat of government power in the kingdom.
Abrupt dismissal of two police generals and a major after Wednesday’s retreat before the mob
On Thursday, the dismissal of the officers including two police generals and a major were ordered by the Operations Centre of the Royal Thai Police.
It is understood that the order was passed on to the Head of the Metropolitan Police, Lieutenant General Phukphong Phongpetra by the new National Police Chief Police General Suwat Jangyodsuk.
New powers give authorities the right to deploy draconian and wide-ranging security measures
The new powers, given to the government and police, authorise the arrest of any person connected with the cause of the emergency as well as those supporting or aiding them, in any way.
It gives authorities the power to enter any premises or order any individual to report to the police with information as well as making the concealment of such information a crime.
The powers include the right to confiscate or destroy any object, including buildings, in its mission to bring a halt to the cause of the emergency.
The legal measure gives the government the authority to act against any individual or their activities deemed to be a threat to national security as well as the right to cordon off or block access to any area.
Officials can also designate or delegate such powers to appointed officers as laid down or specified.
Less than 50 minutes to remove protests on Thursday morning with Chinese Foreign Minister later hosted at Government House by PM on a courtesy call
Following the order being published on Thursday morning, it only took the police less than 50 minutes to sweep out the protesters around Government House and to install the security services and workers to begin cleaning up the area which was later reopened for traffic.
The crowd at the scene was severely depleted as far fewer people had camped out overnight in support of the student-led protest and were taken by surprise.
It is understood that Government House was later used to welcome the visiting Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Wang Yi, as he paid a courtesy call on Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha.
Defiant protest leaders rounded up
Later on Thursday morning, police revealed that they had arrested most of the key protest leaders including Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak or the Penguin and Prasit Utharoj. These leaders were arrested by police near the protest site adjacent to Phitsanulok Road.
Later on, in the morning at 8.20 am, a police unit including plainclothes detectives, arrested Ms Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul who, when confronted by officers in a hotel room is reported to have torn up the arrest warrant.
The fiery protest leader, a popular figure among Thammasat University students, had earlier vowed to escalate the student’s already controversial 10 point plan demanding reform of the monarchy if the security forces acted to suppress the demonstration.
She refused to come willingly with police and lay on the ground in the hotel bedroom, to where a wheelchair was summoned. She flashed the three-finger salute, as police wheeled her out of the hotel and took her to Khlong Luang police station.
New rally on Thursday underway while Central World complex closes early as tensions escalate again
The protest leader had earlier called for a renewed rally at the Ratchaprasong Intersection in Bangkok.
By Thursday at 4 pm, a crowd of well over one thousand turned up. It was a gathering that was not as significant a protest as on Wednesday and was closely monitored by police officers who tackled some protesters while over 2,000 police stood by in case they were needed to be deployed.
Police did engage the crowd but were forced to retreat at one point and reform their lines.
The nearby Central World, a huge Bangkok Shopping Complex, announced at 6 pm, that it was closing its doors because of the escalating situation
This followed after news came that the protest leaders had been denied bail in court, a signal of a tougher stance by authorities to the situation.
Crackdown condemned by human rights groups
The suppression of the protests and the ongoing crackdown has drawn the condemnation of human rights figures in Thailand including Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch, a US organisation, who described October 15th as a ‘dark day’ for Thailand and decried the action.
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, of the Progressive Movement and former Future Forward Party leader, called for action to be taken to support the protest leaders and strongly criticised what happened.
‘The leaders and protesters remained tolerant of various intimidations. They rallied in peace and demanded what a democratic country should possess,’ Mr Thanathorn said. ‘The government has no legitimacy to disperse the crowd at night. It shows their intention to cover up the crackdown and go against international standards.’
Politicians offer support to arrested protesters while Move Forward MP savages the government’s actions
Later, on Thursday, MP Rangsiman Rome of Move Forward together with his party leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, and other parliamentarians including Pheu Thai Ubon Ratchathani MP, Somkid Chuekhong, turned up at the headquarters of the Border Patrol Police in Pathum Thani to meet with the arrested protesters but were refused access.
The government, on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, had signalled its determination to prosecute all those involved in the demonstrations and particularly what a police spokesman referred to as ‘repeat offenders’ involved in the ongoing protest movement.
Police warned the public not to fall foul of the new provisions including illegal messaging and sharing
Senior police officers are also warning the public of the new measures in force which prohibit, at this time, public gatherings in excess of 5 people and also outlaw illegal messaging online in addition to the publication by the media of any reports which seek to distort the situation or which serve to undermine public confidence or cause fear.
On Thursday, Mr Rome was scathing in his assessment of the events in the last 24 hours when he posted a message on Facebook.
‘I condemn PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s declaration of the State of Severe Emergency in the Bangkok area, as well as the crackdown on protest and the arrests of protest leaders even though they announced to disperse themselves at 6 am. This is no different than a coup and it will only make things worse.’
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.
8.50 pm Thursday – The Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan och will brief a special cabinet meeting on Friday as he seeks approval for the extraordinary measures taken on Thursday to deal with the political unrest and student-led protests.
9.01 pm Thursday – Thai opposition parties met on Thursday after which the leader of Pheu Thai Sompong Amornvivat described the announced state of severe emergency as unjustified and called for the release of those arrested in the crackdown.
9.11 pm Thursday – On Thursday evening, Hong Kong pro-democracy activist, Joshua Wong, tweeted his support for the student-led protests in Thailand. Once their voices are silenced, It becomes imperative for us to continue speaking out for them. To prevent #FreedomOfSpeech from being stolen from this country of creativity, #Hongkongers and the world need to #StandWithThailand and spread their words. #FREEDOMFORTHAI
9.36 pm Thursday – Arrest warrants were issued in Bangkok against two political activists who are accused, on Wednesday, of assaulting the liberty of Thai Queen Suthida as her motorcade travelled ner Government House with His Royal Highness Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti. The men have been named as Mr Ekachai Hongkangwan and Mr Boonkuaun Pao Thong. The Criminal Court is now understood to have issued warrants for the arrest of the two men.
9.43 pm Thursday – Deputy Regional Director for Amnesty International, Ming Yu Hah, has strongly criticised the government’s measure to deal with the unrest saying the action was heavy hand and would stifle freedom of expression in Thailand. ‘The scale of today’s early morning arrests seems completely unjustified based on yesterday’s events. The assemblies were overwhelmingly peaceful. These moves are clearly designed to stamp out dissent, and sow fear in anyone who sympathises with the protesters’ views.’
10.30 pm Thursday – The protest in central Bangkok comes to a peaceful end as protest leaders announced a cessation to the event. Some protestors laid music and danced in front of watchful police lines from the pop group Rap Against Dictatorship including the song ‘My Country’. The protest leaders had demanded the release of those arrested on Thursday throughout the evening but ended the event out of fears that something untoward may happen.