Protesters Say Cops Threaten Toilet Operators Ahead of Rally

Pro-democracy protesters raise a three-finger salute, a symbol of resistance, during a rally at Sanam Luang in Bangkok, Thailand on Sept. 20, 2020. Photo: Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP
Pro-democracy protesters raise a three-finger salute, a symbol of resistance, during a rally at Sanam Luang in Bangkok, Thailand on Sept. 20, 2020. Photo: Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP

BANGKOK — Activists said operators of portable toilets hired for the upcoming anti-government rally were pressured by police to cancel the contracts.

The cancellation meant there will be no toilets provided for the protest at the Democracy Monument on Wednesday. Anti-government activist Pakorn Areekul said police also told him that the protesters might be charged with obstructing the royal motorcade, which is scheduled to pass the rally site on the same date.

“Important announcement: we will have no portable toilets,” Pakorn said in a post on his Facebook.

“The toilet companies were visited by the police all day all night. Police told them that they will face changes for obstructing the royal motorcade. It’s a funny intimidation because the toilets will be there at 7pm, well after the convoy passed. So they withdrew their service because they feared serious charges.”

His Majesty the King is scheduled to travel on Ratchadamnoen Avenue to preside over a graduation ceremony for monks at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha inside the Grand Palace on Wednesday.

Pakorn said he has reached out to other providers and began building his own toilets for Wednesday’s rally, which is expected to run until Sunday.

“Mobile toilet trucks are actually the secondary plan,” Pakorn said in Monday’s post. “I know that they will be intercepted, but I found it quite a surprise for them to bring out obstructing royal motorcade charges. I’m ordering toilets to be built right now.”

Private operators of mobile toilets at the Sept. 19 protest were also pressured by the police to leave the rally site, causing much frustration for the demonstrators.

Co-leader and civil rights lawyer Arnon Nampa had said earlier that demonstrators will not obstruct His Majesty’s route, but they will stand in silence and flash the three-finger salute in a symbolic show of defiance.

“We will act peacefully,” Arnon said. “Police have the duty to prevent individuals with ill intention from disrupting the motorcade.”

He also announced Sunday that the demonstrators will march to the Government House after the royal motorcade passed through, and camp out overnight there.

“We will march to the Government House to force the Prime Minister to resign at 5pm,” Arnon said. “If the parliament decides to convene a special session, we will be there too to pressure them to pass the people’s version of the charter amendments motion. We will go to different locations. It will certainly last longer than a week.”

Former Redshirt leader Jatuporn Prompan warned protesters to welcome His Majesty the King’s motorcade with respect, since any disturbance will be used as an excuse to stir up violence against them.

“They have to think carefully,” Jatuporn said. “This can make a mountain out of a molehill like the Oct. 6, 1976 massacre.”

Police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen on Monday denied accusations of authorities harassing the activists or those who support them.

He said police already have arrangements in place for the planned royal motorcade, but details of which could not be disclosed at the moment.

“We wouldn’t do that,” Col. Kissana said. “It’s not our duty. For the royal motorcade, it’s our responsibility to provide security and orderliness, so any vehicles or obstacles found on the route must be removed. The metropolitan police will give more details about it soon.”