Protest Leaders Say They Drop Gov’t House as March Target

Pro-democracy activists and student leaders raise a three-fingers salute, a symbol of resistance, after a protest rally at Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. Photo: Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP
Pro-democracy activists and student leaders raise a three-fingers salute, a symbol of resistance, after a protest rally at Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. Photo: Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP

BANGKOK — Government House is no longer the destination of an anti-regime demonstration scheduled for Sunday, an internal memo compiled by protest organizers revealed. 

According to the document obtained by Khaosod English, the protest leaders will announce on stage just before the march sets out on Sunday morning that they will not be heading for the government’s seat of power after all. 

A protest coordinator listed in the document said the plan is genuine. 

“Yes, we will not go to the Government House,” the coordinator, who only identified herself as View, said by phone. “But I can’t tell you just now where we will march to.”

Another coordinator listed in the document likewise confirmed the decision to drop Government House as their target, and said there are strategies in place in event of facing pushback from police.

“Yes, it’s true,” the person called Cream said. “We don’t expect the confrontation to be violent. There will be volunteer guards to look after the demonstrators.”

Cream said a stage will be set up on Sanam Luang on Saturday before the protesters will move to an undisclosed destination Sunday morning.

Protest leaders such as Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak have teased in recent days that a “Big Surprise” will be unveiled at the two-day protest, which is set to begin Saturday afternoon.

The document appeared to a rough schedule of activities through Saturday and Sunday. It said the protest organizers will meet at Thammasat University at 1pm and set up a stage on the football field.

If the crowd is large enough, the activists will lead them on a march to enter the nearby Sanam Luang. Another stage will be set up on the field, facing the Supreme Court building. 

“Activities can only begin when [protesters] are inside Thammasat and Sanam Luang.” part of the document said. “It may be achieved by negotiation, or breaking through the gates. We therefore ask the media not to linger around the frontline, because their expensive equipment may be damaged.” 

“The highlight is 9pm onward,” it went on. “We will talk about the 10 demands and what strategy to be adopted. That night, it will be clear what everyone must do come morning.” 

Then Where? 

The document said the destination will be revealed about 8am on Sunday. It said protest leaders will submit their 10 demands to reform the monarchy at the venue. 

“Prepare for counter measures because the destination may be sealed off. Clashes may take place. But we will set up a negotiation team. As of now we have Rung and Penguin,” the plan said, referring to Parit and activist Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

“We will try to wrap up all activities by 12pm,” it concluded. 

A police briefing material obtained by Khaosod English also shows preparation made in the event that the demonstrators choose to enter the royal grounds close to Government House. 

Just northwest there is the sprawling complex of the Dusit Palace, which includes several royal residences and, most prominently, the Royal Plaza at the end of Ratchadamnoen Avenue. 

Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan earlier today urged the protesters to stay away from properties associated with the monarchy. 

“Don’t go to the Royal Plaza,” Gen. Prawit said. “[Police] will have to defend it, if there’s another choice, then go there instead.”