Protesters To Seize Democracy Monument, Tell Prayut to Quit

Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, Arnon Nampa, and other activists flash the anti-military “three finger salute” at a news conference at Sanam Luang on Oct. 8, 2020.
Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, Arnon Nampa, and other activists flash the anti-military “three finger salute” at a news conference at Sanam Luang on Oct. 8, 2020.

BANGKOK — Pro-democracy activists on Thursday announced their demands for a protest scheduled to take place at the iconic Democracy Monument on Oct. 14, the anniversary of the student uprising against military rule in 1973.

At a news conference held at Sanam Luang, the site of the previous rally held on the weekend of Sept. 19 and Sept. 20, the protest leaders demanded resignation of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and his “cronies,” a special parliamentary session on charter amendments, and reforms of the monarchy.

“We will bring Thailand back under democracy and return power to the people,” activist Panupong Jadnok said.

The new set of demands are meant to unite all pro-democracy movements under the umbrella of the “People’s Party 2020,” a reference to a clique of military officers and civilians who toppled absolute monarchy in 1932 and established parliamentary rule.

“The People’s Party hasn’t gone anywhere,” Panupong said. “They’re in the hearts of all democracy-loving citizens.”

Today’s press conference at the Sanam Luang was also attended by leader of the Free People Movement Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, Laponpat Wangpaisit of the Bad Student network, and Jatupat Boonpattararaksa of community rights advocacy group Dao Din.

The group urged the protesters to gather from 2pm onwards on Oct. 14 at the Democracy Monument, where the campaigners will “seize the monument back for the people” as the first activity for the day, according to co-leader Arnon Nampa.

“The monument belonged to the people, but it was captured by the dictator government by planting trees around it,” Arnon said. “It will return to the people this Oct. 14.”

Democracy Monument was built in 1939 to commemorate the revolt that overthrew the royal government six years prior. Originally designed as a public space, security officers in recent years barricaded the monument and turned it into a garden sealed off from the public, possibly to deter anti-government protests from taking place there.

Arnon did not give more details about what tactics will be used to seize the memorial, or whether they will march to another location, though he added that a “surprise” awaits at the rally.

“We have to see how many people will turn up,” he said.

The rally will kick off on the same day student protesters rose up against the military dictatorship of Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn 47 years ago. The protest organizers said the demonstrators will likely camp overnight, though details of which are still being deliberated among the leaders.

The rally site also sits on the planned motorcade route of His Majesty the King on Ratchadamnoen Avenue. Arnon said the demonstrators will not obstruct His Majesty’s route.