7 Arrested for Fresh Protest, Cops Threaten to Charge Everyone

Anti-government protest on Ratchaprasong Intersection on Oct. 16, 2020.
Anti-government protest on Ratchaprasong Intersection on Oct. 16, 2020.

BANGKOK — Seven people are said to be under arrest as of Friday for their role in yesterday’s massive anti-government protest at the heart of Bangkok’s shopping district.

The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group said Friday six crew members handling the sound system for Thursday’s rally on Ratchaprasong Intersection were arrested at around midnight after leaving the protest site. An unidentified demonstrator was also taken away during a scuffle that broke out on Thursday afternoon.

More arrests might be on the way, as police threatened to prosecute “every protester” who joined the gathering that defied the new emergency decree, though their claim was met with much ridicule on social media.

“The rally went against the Severe State of Emergency,” Deputy Bangkok police chief Maj. Gen. Piya Tawichai said at a news conference on Thursday night. “Every protester will be prosecuted and police have already gathered all the evidence.”

Piya did not explain how the police would carry out the arrests.

Police spokesman Kissana Phattanacharoen said police will also press charges against individuals who broke the gates of the elevated walkway over the intersection, which was cordoned off by police for hours before demonstrators forced their way in.

“Is this a peaceful protest?” Col. Kissana said. “I urge citizens to think about it carefully since they can’t undo their criminal records.”

The seven suspects are being detained at the regional Border Patrol Police headquarters in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district, where several protest leaders who were arrested in the early hours of Thursday are also being held, the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said.

Tens of thousands filled the streets around the Ratchaprasong Intersection in central Bangkok throughout Thursday evening in defiance of the “Severe State of Emergency” imposed by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha in an attempt to quell the rising dissent against his regime.

The decree banned political gatherings of more than five people, allowed security officers to shut down buildings and search individuals without warrants, and empowered censorship of the media.

The rally was an impromptu response to police’s crackdown on protesters camping outside Government House in the early morning hours of Thursday. At least 25,000 people are believed to have attended the Ratchaprasong protest, which proceeded largely without leaders.

Apart from a brief confrontation with riot police when the protesters began to spill into the streets, the rally went generally peaceful. They dispersed at around 10pm and pledged to return at the same venue on Friday 5pm.