BANGKOK — A demonstrator splashed paint on police during a scuffle when 15 pro-democracy activist leaders reported themselves to the investigators Friday.
Tensions ran high between protesters and police Friday when Jatupat Boonpattararaksa or “Pai Dao Din” and 14 other pro-democracy activists went to Samranrat Police Station Friday in response to police summons.
“I did not do this as a threat. But since they continue to harass us, I want to harass them back in an artistic way,” protester Chaiamorn Kaewibul, who splashed blue paint on police in the commotion, said. One report said 13 police officers were doused with paint.
A supporter of the pro-democracy movement later donated to the police money fundraised from the protesters for buying new uniforms.
Pai and the other leaders were responding to summons relating to holding a July 18 protest against PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. They had been charged with breaking the Emergency Decree as well as laws relating to traffic, public cleanliness, and the coronavirus pandemic.
Around 100 protesters marched with the activists to the police station where the brief brawl broke out. Reporters and observers, which included United Nations representatives and members of the Move Forward Party, were barred from getting close to the protesters or police station by metal railings.
“Government areas belong to the people!” protesters could be heard shouting.
The demonstrators led by Jatupat also camped out overnight at the Oct. 14, 1973 Memorial in defiance of the government, the beginning of what they hope is a days-long protest.
In contrast to many of the recent student-led protests, many of the attendees were mostly Redshirt members. Relics of the protest against the Democrat Party-led government from a decade ago such as the “heart clappers” and “feet clappers” were sold at the rally.
Speakers such as Arnon Nampha and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul took turns making speeches calling for reforms and a new charter. “The Kingmaker,” a documentary about divisive Filipina figure Imelda Marcos, was also screened.
“When upcountry people come to Bangkok, we need a place to sleep. So let’s sleep here and see how people deal with us,” Jatupat said. “Citizens want democracy, so our representatives, the MPs, must represent our interests.”
Jatupat was one of the first to adopt the three-finger salute against the junta back in 2014. He was jailed in August 2017 for sharing a BBC Thai biography about Rama X and freed in May 2019 on a royal pardon, which cut down his jail sentence of two and a half years by one month.
Ongoing student protests across the country are using the three-finger salute as a rallying symbol for the cause.
“Before it was much more difficult to raise three fingers due to the general atmosphere,” Jatupat said. “Before, people had those thoughts but were too afraid to raise them. But today, everyone is doing it and it’s a reality. We cannot take this government anymore and need freedom.”
“I’m very happy to see people doing it.”