Protesters in Bangkok on Wednesday night appeared more confident and to have momentum as they confronted police at key points throughout the city. Earlier in the day, the deans of four of Thailand’s top universities declared the state of severe emergency, announced last Thursday, as unconstitutional but called on all sides to resolve the crisis in parliament.
Despite pro royalist demonstrations early on Wednesday, large numbers of People’s Party 2020 protesters dominated the streets of Bangkok and other areas on Wednesday evening up until 9.35 pm. At times, the crowd broke through Royal Thai Police barricades with razor wire to press home their demands for the resignation of the current Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha as well as demands for a new constitution and reform of the monarchy. On other occasions in the evening, tensions were raised but somehow the police and the protest leadership managed to ensure that the night passed off peacefully. The protesters, who appeared energised and determined, promised to return in 3 days if the Prime Minister had not stepped down by then.
If Thai politicians, ministers and government officials thought that the street protest had died down after a holiday on Tuesday, they were reminded on Wednesday evening that the student-led movement has not yet run of steam and appears to have, instead, been further galvanised.
Confronted, at times, with razor wire and assembled police barriers, the protesters again made their way to Government House and were able to present a letter to Police Lieutenant General Phukphong Phongpetra, the Head of the Metropolitan Police in Bangkok.
Resignation letter for the PM handed over to police chief at the end of a day which also saw significant Royalist demonstrations in Thailand
The letter explicitly detailed the resignation of the Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha which is now the key demand of the protesters followed by calls for the end of the state of emergency, the release of those arrested, constitutional changes and most controversially, reform of the monarchy.
Earlier on Wednesday, up to 20,000 people in Narathiwat province took part in a peaceful rally in support of the Royal Institution when they marched in Sungai Kolok at the southern tip of Thailand.
‘We are ready to protect the monarchy’ said Pirote Nunsawad, a village headman from Sathing Phra in northern Narathiwat.
A smaller crowd was also reported to have turned out in Chiang Mai to support the monarchy with police expressing fears of a potential clash between rival groups.
Yongyos Thepchamnong of the Royal Thai Police, nonetheless, told the media that the force was prepared to handle any such eventuality.
Scuffles at Ramkhamhaeng University between sides
Something like this did happen in Bangkok on Wednesday before the large protests occurred when it was reported that scores of students loyal to the monarchy at Ramkhamhaeng University confronted student protesters against the current government.
Campus authorities urgently demanded that both groups remove themselves from the university and matters passed off peacefully except for an initial scuffle.
Later in Bangkok, thousands turned out again and headed for Victory Monument and other locations in a show of force and determination.
University deans say emergency is unconstitutional
On Wednesday also, the deans of four top universities in Thailand came out against the state of severe emergency declared last Thursday in Bangkok.
A statement was issued by Assistant Professor Munin Pongsapan of Thammasat University, Assistant Professor Pareena Srivanit of Chulalongkorn University, Assistant Professor Pornchai Wisuttisak of Chiang Mai University and Sutthichai Ngamchuensuwan of Prince of Songkla University.
The letter was directed to Chuan Leekpai, the Speaker and President of the Parliament.
In it, they made it clear that they thought that the declaration of a state of severe emergency in Bangkok, last Thursday, was both unnecessary because of the peaceful nature of the protests and unconstitutional.
The top university officials called for the crisis to be resolved by talks between all parties in parliament but in the meantime, implored Thailand’s courts to uphold the freedoms and rights of Thai citizens.
Senior police officer warned the protesters that when approaching key buildings they must be aware they are in breach of the new laws declared last Thursday
The crowds, on Wednesday night, were large with events building up from 5.30 pm. Tensions between the protesters and the police later rose and nearly boiled over on a number of occasions.
At one point, outside Government House, police called up the blue water cannon vehicles used on Friday night while officers also attempted to mediate with protesters.
Police Colonel Kritsana Pattanacharoen spoke with reporters at the scene and said that protesters should be aware that by approaching key buildings, they were in breach of the law.
Protesters vow to return in 3 days if PM fails to resign following their latest hand delivered ultimatum
The senior officer said the Thai Prime Minister has already explained his sincerity in his desire to find a solution to the crisis and that if protesters cooperate, the emergency law, declared last week, could be rescinded.
However, the protest was only halted after 9.35 pm when representatives handed over their letter calling for the resignation of General Prayut to the Metropolitan Police Chief Lieutenant General Phukphong.
They promised that if the PM failed to resign, then, the People’s Party would return in three days. The protest leadership said that the delivery of the letter and ultimatum was the mission behind Wednesday night’s protests.
The message was then relayed to protesters throughout Bangkok on social media sites and the protest activity dissolved.