Wed | Oct 21, 2020

Thailand declares emergency after unprecedented protest

Published:Thursday | October 15, 2020 | 11:50 AM
Pro-democracy protesters flash three-fingered salute during a protest as they occupied a main road at the central business district in Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, October 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s government declared a strict new state of emergency for the capital on Thursday, a day after a student-led protest against the country’s traditional establishment saw an extraordinary moment in which demonstrators heckled a royal motorcade.

After the pre-dawn declaration, riot police moved in to clear out demonstrators who after a day of rallies and confrontation had gathered outside Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s office to push their demands, which include the former general’s resignation, constitutional changes and reform of the monarchy.

Several top leaders of the protest movement were taken into custody, with one later declaring on his Facebook page that he had been denied access to a lawyer and was being forced onto a helicopter and taken to a city in the country’s north. Police said they had made 22 arrests.

Despite a new ban against large public gatherings, thousands of people rallied again in another area of the city later Thursday.

The new gathering, which appeared to have drawn more than the 8,000 people police said had attended the previous night’s rally, lasted about six hours and began winding down shortly after 10:00 p.m.

Organizers announced they would gather again on Friday.

“It shows that no matter how many are arrested, new faces will join the protest,” Patsaravalee “Mind” Tanakitvibulpon, an engineering student and protest organiser, told the online publication The Standard.

The text of the emergency declaration said it was needed because “certain groups of perpetrators intended to instigate an untoward incident and movement in the Bangkok area by way of various methods and via different channels, including causing obstruction to the royal motorcade.”

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