THAILAND. Bangkok. Over 2,500 people gathered at the Democracy Monument on 18 July to demand the dissolution of the parliament, an end to the state harassment on its citizens, and a new constitution. Several local news outlets reported that this is the biggest crowd since the 2014 coup d’état.
The protest came after police brutality in Rayong, government double standard, “lost faith” shirt controversy and the disappearance of a political exile.
Youth gather to protest. Members of the Free Youth group and the Student Union of Thailand organized a demonstration. The public started to gather at the monument early afternoon, hours before the event was set to start at 5 p.m.
Police officers, both uniformed and undercover, were on the scene and around the monument to prevent the protesters from entering the area. Towards the beginning of the protest, police played a looped audio recording of laws protesters might violate; however, protesters forced them to relocate and stop.
Protesters occupied a side of the roundabout and closed down a street after breaking police barricades.
“Everyone of us is not supposed to be here. We should be using this time to do what we love and join together in developing the country. But in this ‘must not develop’ country, the most basic right of demanding justice is difficult to obtain,” said a Free Youth’s statement.
Protest leaders took turns giving speeches. There were concerts from the Commoner Thailand and Rap Against Dictator.
Police ready to intervene. There was no intervention by the police. However, it was reported that police prepared forces, including batons and high-pressure sprinkler trucks, to dissolve the gathering. The organizers also said they saw officers on the rooftop of a nearby building.
Organizers initially said they were going to protest overnight before waking the government up in the morning by singing the national anthem at 8 a.m., but later announced the dispersion around midnight. They said there were “suspicious” things going on and they were concerned about the safety of the protesters.
If their demands are not met within two weeks, they said they would take the protest to another level.
A hashtag #เยาวชนปลดแอด (#YouthLiberation) trended on Twitter before, during, and after the event with over 10 million tweets.
On 19 July, there were similar protests in Chiang Mai and Ubon Ratchathani.