RECAP: Pro-democracy protesters gather for first time this year to demand abolition of Thailand’s lèse-majesté laws

Bangkok –

A pro-democracy demonstration, organized by “Ratsadon” (the People’s Group), was staged for the first time this year at Pathumwan intersection in the capital yesterday, February 10th, as a major response to Thailand’s lèse-majesté charges against several of their protest leaders.

A crowd of pro-democracy activists and supporters arrived at BTS Siam-National Stadium Skywalk around 4:00 PM. Most of them were seen carrying and beating pots, pans, and other kitchenware to the protest site to show disapproval of the Thai government and Thai law enforcement.

A group of pro-democracy Myanmar people had also joined the Bangkok protest with pictures of Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s National League for Democracy political party leader, and slogans, demanding the release of the female pro-democracy activist and condemning their military coup.

Yesterday’s protest was mainly to call for the abolition of lèse-majesté laws and the release of the 4 protest leaders, as well as showing solidarity with the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar that also used kitchenware to symbolically show anger towards their military-ruled government.

The first group of Bangkok police and riot police with full gear were also spotted at MBK shopping mall around 5:00 PM. with a police loudspeaker, telling the protesters to disperse as they were violating the Emergency Decree’s prohibition of large public gatherings. The protesters ignored the order as usual and continued to fill up the protest site with banners, performances, speeches, and pro-democracy creative activities.

Six protesters and two young activists were reportedly captured by the police while some provocative banners were also seized from the site, resulting in a large group of the remaining demonstrators marching to Pathumwan Police Station to demand the release of the eight protesters detained as of 7:00 PM.

The rally had arrived in front of the police station whereas a group of anti-riot police was also lining up nearby and closely monitoring the situation. Prominent protest leader, Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, demanded the police to release the detained protesters by 8:00 P.M. otherwise, the demonstrators threatened to break into the station.

A minor clash between the protesters and riot police was reported in front of the Pathumwan Police Station as well as the use of chemical tear gas since some protesters found a tear gas canister close to the incident. Several minor injuries in the clash were also reported. Police denied using tear gas. Both sides accused the other of aggravation and raising tensions.

All of the detained protesters were released as of 8:47 PM. Two young activists were requested to visit the Central Juvenile and Family Court at Chatuchak district today, February 11th.

Prominent protest leader, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, then called the end of the demonstration as of 9:00 P.M., concluding that the announcement of future pro-democracy gatherings will be announced daily on multiple social media platforms. The no-confidence public motions, organized by the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, will also be staged on the 16th and the 19th of February, according to her statement.

Photo Courtesy: Prachathai

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