Protesters who returned to the Nang Loeng intersection yesterday (27 September) for another march to Government House were once again blocked by crowd control police, razor wire, and water cannon trucks.
The Nang Loeng Intersection was blocked with razor wire
The protest was called by the activist group Thalufah, who planned to march to Government House again after their protest on Saturday (25 September) was blocked by a razor wire barrier. Crowd control police also dispersed protesters with water cannon and tear gas.
The group is making 4 demands: the unconditional resignation of PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha; a new constitution; monarchy reform; and reform of the judicial system to ensure the right to bail of detained activists.
Ahead of the march at 16.00, the Nang Loeng intersection was blocked with metal fences and razor wire. Units of crowd control police and water cannon trucks were also stationed at the intersection.
At 16.30, protesters were seen hanging banners from the razor wire containing messages such as “No police = no violence” and “Prayut dynasty damages the country” . They also threw bags of red paint and pieces of paper with messages such as “The people don’t hate the nation, they hate you” over the barrier, as well as launching water rockets.
Water cannon trucks were stationed at the Nang Loeng Intersection
At 17.05, the police began firing water cannon blasts at the protesters near the barriers. The water may have been laced with a chemical irritant, as protesters and reporters in the area reported feeling some irritation in their eyes. A green laser beam was also seen pointing at the protesters, who answered the water cannon blasts with fireworks.
iLaw also reported that crowd control police fired rubber bullets at the protesters without first issuing a warning, and that it was unclear why they needed to use rubber bullets.
At around 18.00, a unit of crowd control police on motorcycles drove into the protest site. They stopped some Thalufah members and searched their motorcycle, while one group member was live broadcasting on the Thalufah Facebook page. An officer also asked the person live broadcasting for their press ID, as well as asking the activists to take off their face masks and show their faces before leaving.
A protester was pushed to the ground
iLaw reported that, around this time, an old woman was arrested and was pushed to the ground. She was reported to be the younger sister of Worawan Sae-aung, or “Aunty Pao,” an elderly fruit vendor who regularly attends protests and is known for her sharp tongue.
While reporters and protesters surrounded a detention truck to photograph the detained protesters and get information from them, a crowd control police officer ordered them through a megaphone to stay away and said that anyone obstructing official operations would be arrested.
Crowd control police then lined up between the reporters and the detention trucks. One field reporter said that a crowd control officer tried to pull her behind the police line, causing a small clash between the reporters and protesters and the crowd control police, who were also reported to be pushing reporters with their shields, ordering them to leave and saying that they would be considered to be obstructing police operations if they did not get out of the way.
According to iLaw, protesters demanded that the officer who tried to pull the reporter behind police line apologize. The crowd control police commander then attempted to negotiate with the crowd, telling them to stay at least 5 metres away from the police lines. The commander later apologised to the reporter and ordered the crowd control unit to withdraw from the area.
At 18.25, units of crowd control police were seen leaving the area on trucks and motorcycles.
According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), 26 people were arrested at the protest at Nang Loeng Intersection, 4 of them minors, who were taken to Huai Khwang Police Station. The remaining 22 people were taken to Bangkhen Police Station; at least 2 were injured during the arrest.
TLHR also said that their lawyers arrived at Bangkhen Police Station at 22.45, but were prevented from seeing the protesters as the police claimed that they have to finish the arrest records first, which TLHR said is a violation of the detainees’ right to have a lawyer or a trusted person present during interrogation. The lawyers were finally allowed to see the detained protesters at around 23.10.
A crowd also gathered in front of Bangkhen Police Station from around 19.30 – 21.30, demanding the detained protesters’ release. Some protesters raised a red flag containing three of their demands on the flag pole in front of the police station, before a police officer came to cut the flag down.
Thalufah announced the conclusion of the protest at around 18.55. They later announced another protest at 16.00 today (28 September), which will also begin at the Nang Loeng intersection before marching to Government House.