Protest leaders re-arrested as ‘important announcement’ teased for noon

Protesters raise three-finger salutes at the Democracy Monument on Oct. 14, 2020. Photo: Coconuts
Protesters raise three-finger salutes at the Democracy Monument on Oct. 14, 2020. Photo: Coconuts

Two key student activists were freed on bail last night only to be immediately detained again.

Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul and Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak were taken to the Border Police Bureau Region 1 in Pathum Thani province and, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, face another three to four charges each. The movement had demanded the release of all those detained last night, teasing a “big surprise” that turned out to be nothing more than a provocation to keep security forces on their toes.

At 10am this morning, protest organizer Free Youth was teasing the public again, this time that noon would bring an “important announcement.” The group also vowed “no tricks” this time.

While unprecedented displays of anger toward the monarchy have been displayed in the street, movement leaders maintain that they simply want reforms of the institution.

“The people’s demands are not to overthrow, but to offer a solution that brings Thailand back to a democracy where the kings are truly under the constitution,” Free Youth wrote this morning via Telegram. 

One of their primary targets – Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-o-cha – said yesterday that the government’s primary responsibility is to “protect the monarchy.” 

As to the controversial order for Voice TV to shut down, Prayuth asked the police to reconsider. However, he said any media agency found to spread “fake news” or have bad intentions should be censored. 

Yesterday’s “big surprise” at 6pm was a fake out, but pro-democracy supporters at 6pm flashed three-finger salutes, sang the national anthem and denounced feudalism at BTS stations throughout the capital.

The country’s oldest hospital, Siriraj, announced that it would treat every patient equally and without discrimination “regardless of their political stance.” Its statement came days after police in full riot gear shot water cannons – believed to be mixed with a chemical irritant – to disperse the crowd on Friday. 

With nearly 400 doctors nationwide signing in a joint statement demanding the authorities refrain from violence, at least one doctor was fired from Mongkutwattana General Hospital with the hospital’s director reasoning they he doesn’t tolerate employees “allied with the king’s enemies.”

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