Bangkok, Thailand –
A large crowd of pro-democracy protesters is now regrouping at the Ratchaprasong Intersection of Bangkok after being dispersed by riot police and the announcement of a severe state of emergency in the capital this morning, October 15.
The announcement of the severe emergency and the ban on protests by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O’Cha has provoked many activists and protesters, resulting in the growing number of demonstrators at the intersection since 4:00 PM. This is despite the declaration of a severe emergency making gatherings of over five people illegal.
The massive crowd has been flashing three-finger salutes, which is now a symbol of the protesters defiance, while furiously shouting for the government to free their protest leaders who are detained by the authorities and reportedly denied access to lawyers under the severe emergency declaration.
The crowd was also observed gathering to push back the law enforcement officers who were appearing to attemp to block their access into the intersection. Long rows of both law enforcement officers and protesters were seen facing off with each other locked arm in arm, neither giving way but, for the most part, peaceful on both sides despite many protesters visibly angry.
Panupong “Mike Rayong” Jadnok, one of the few remaining protest leaders not jailed, was also seen giving a speech, stating that he and all protesters will not retreat until their demands are heard.
More Bangkok Metropolitan Bureau officers, police vehicles, and water cannon trucks were deployed near the rally site. Some police vehicles were stopped by protesters and drew back from the area. Authorities from the United Nations have reportedly closely monitored the situation with the police officers.
The police authorities have urged all rally-goers to disperse by 6:00 PM. but the protesters have not yet shown any sign of retreat as of nearly 7:00 PM Bangkok time. They are still gathering and have fully occupied the Rachaprasong road despite the ban of political gatherings of more than 5 people. The Pattaya News notes that as a general policy we do not estimate crowd sizes.
According to police spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen, the gathering at Ratchaprasong intersection is considered wrongdoing as it violates the new severe emergency declaration.
“Whoever joins the demonstration will be considered a wrongdoer.” He said in a press conference this morning.
The Pattaya News will provide updates on this story throughout the evening.
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