BANGKOK — Police said on Monday they are planning to file at least three different criminal charges against organizers of Saturday’s anti-government gathering at Democracy Monument.
Charges to be filed include harming two police officers, obstructing police, gathering in a group of more than 10 people, deputy Bangkok police commander Maj. Gen. Piya Tawichai said by phone Monday.
He declined to comment on the individuals who would face the criminal charges, citing ongoing investigation.
According to Piya, two police officers were injured during a scuffle with demonstrators at the, which was billed as a “Mob Fest” by the organizers. One officer reportedly was hit in the head with a flagpole, while another was struck in the face. Both reported their injuries to Samran Rat Police station.
Piya also said he would work with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to see whether protesters could also be charged with cleanliness acts for draping the Democracy Monument with a cloth that protesters had written messages on, such as “All I want for Christmas is democracy.”
The Democracy Monument is under the care of the city and Fine Arts Department, though it is not officially registered as a historic site.
Various issues were highlighted at the festival-like “Mob Fest” protest, including gender equality, abortion, prostitution laws, China’s influence in Thailand, and stateless tribes living along Thailand’s borders.
Protest Insists on 3 Demands
It was the latest manifestation of the ongoing pro-democracy protests, whose core demands are PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s immediate resignation, a more democratic constitution, and monarchy reforms.
One demonstrator at the Mob Fest conducted a survey asking protesters which of the three demands they deem as the most important; interviewees overwhelmingly chose the third.
While the royal motorcade carrying His Majesty the King drove close to the protest site, demonstrators also stood with their backs to the motorcade, held up three fingers in protest, and sang the National Anthem – an exceedingly rare visual in Thailand, where members of the Royal Family are often portrayed as demi-gods.
But the protest was far from an outburst of rage at the establishment. Activists staged K-pop dances. Some sold scarves depicting Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram, an autocrat who challenged the monarchy’s powers in the 1930s, and Nuamthong Praiwan, the taxi driver who killed himself in 2006 to protest a military coup that year.
“I’ve lost seven years of my adolescence living under Gen. Prayut,” a 23-year-old artist selling parody incantation cloths said. “I don’t want my entire youth to be under him.”
The artist said that she wanted older people to open their minds to reforming the monarchy.
“We understand that it shakes your deeply-held beliefs you have had your entire life, but every institution needs to be scrutinized,” she said. “How is it possible for us to overthrow the monarchy? We would need massive power that we don’t have. We want to reform it to make it better.”