A group of pro-democracy demonstrators, under the “Thalu Fah” movement, gathered for the fifth consecutive day at the Democracy Monument of Bangkok this afternoon, August 19th, while another group of hardline independent protesters confronted the Thai riot police yet again at the Sam Liam Din Daeng junction.
The Thalu Fah demonstrators arrived at Ratchadamnoen road at around 4:00 PM. and began covering the top of the Democracy monument with a black cloth and hanging anti-government banners around the monument.
Police Colonel Attawit Saisueb, Deputy Chief of Metropolitan Police Division One, told reporters that the protest organizer had informed the authorities that they would protest without marching elsewhere. The protest will be closely observed by the officials. More than 20 uniformed and undercover police were stationed at the roundabout. No riot police were present. Police stated that the assembly was technically illegal under current strict emergency decree-laws around Covid-19 that ban all gatherings of more than five people but were more restrained this afternoon.
A mobile stereo and stage were installed at the site while a set of hay puppets were scattered on the road with pictures of 250 senators and the Thai cabinet committee.
Speeches from pro-democracy activists were given, complaining about what they say is the police’s violent tactics against protesters and the government’s failure to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.
As of 6:41 PM., crowd control police and a water cannon truck reportedly arrived at the site. However, the Police Colonel insisted that there would be no harsh confrontation if the protest remained peaceful, saying that the protest can be done if called off on time and if there was no destruction of property.
One of the protest organizers, Karim, had negotiated with Attawit and confirmed that the protesters would burn the hay puppets as part of a symbolic performance that had been done several times. The colonel then said that he would tell the riot police to leave and would deploy traffic police with extinguishers instead.
As of 7:00 PM., Thalu Fah demonstrators began setting fire to a pile of puppets. The traffic police then approached the site and extinguished the fire 2 or 3 minutes later. The group then called off the demonstration, peacefully.
On the other side of Bangkok, independent protesters were seen gathering and confronting riot police once again at the Sam Liam Din Daeng junction since 4:41 PM.
According to one of the protesters in Din Daeng, he said that he came to demand the Prime Minister’s resignation as his family and friends were suffering from the government management and the lockdown measures. He was not hired by anybody and paid for firecrackers being used to throw at police by himself.
Firecrackers were thrown at cargo containers that had been removed this morning and reinstalled this evening. A round of tear gas was fired at the group by crowd control police. The confrontation continued for more than three hours. Police also raided several fireworks stores in the Pathum Thani area, hoping to get to the source of the supplies being used daily by anti-government protesters.