The mostly young demonstrators, who began the day by assembling at the Tha Prachan campus of Thammasat University nearby, have also vowed to press for reform of the monarchy, an issue that has provoked strong reactions from more conservative segments of society, reports the Bangkok Post.
However, an increasing number of seasoned protest veterans from the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), after keeping a low profile for the past few years, have decided it’s time to throw their support behind the movement. This story will be updated regularly and readers can also follow live feeds on Facebook and Twitter.
The Bangkok Post is providing hourly updates on the protest. The latest updates are as follows:
5pm: Police fence off the grass at Sanam Luang and say demonstrators can use only the paved area of the site, where the stage has been set up, but the crowd continues to swell, breaking down the barriers and moving onto the grass where they settle in for a long night.
Police set up a new barrier across the grass closer to the Grand Palace. The Public Assembly Act forbids gathering within 150 metres from the compound of the Grand Palace and palaces of Royal Family members. Three large water trucks have been stationed behind the new barrier.
The latest police estimate of the crowd is 5,000 but many more are expected to arrive as the night goes on, with the main speeches not expected to start until around 9pm.
3.40pm: More demonstrators move from Thammasat University to Sanam Luang, in defiance of police warnings that the “royal ground” is off-limits. Police also warn that entry within a 50-metre radius of the Supreme Court is prohibited.
“Sanam Laung in the past was a public space used by the people. Occupying it is seizing it back,” the rally organisers said in an earlier statement.
Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue might also be closed for art exhibitions and other activities. The road name will be changed to “Rassadon Avenue”, they said.
Organisers say the rally will continue overnight. At 8am on Sunday, an anti-dictatorship march will begin – but not to Government House as planned earlier, and where security officials had concentrated many of their resources to protect the site.
“We had said we would march to Government House. But now whoever is waiting there can go home,” the organisers’ statement said. “As to where we’ll go, we’ll announce on that day.”
See the full ongoing report by the Bangkok Post here.