BANGKOK: The Student Union of Thailand and the Free Youth group rallied at the Democracy Monument on Saturday against the government, threatening to step up their protests while police said they had not asked for permission to demonstrate.
Under the banner of "We Will No Longer Tolerate", the rally was joined by students from many institutions. Parit Chiwarak, aka Penguin, a Thammasat University student and political activist, was a rally leader.
The protesters delivered speeches showing their contempt for the government’s work which included calls for the revocation of the emergency decree during the COVID-19 pandemic, reported the Bangkok Post
The Free Youth group demanded the government dissolve parliament immediately due to its failure to manage the economy, and stop threatening people by enforcing laws and using security reasons to silence them. The group also demanded the constitution be rewritten.
If the government does not respond to the demands within two weeks, the group said it would intensify the movement.
About 1,000 protesters showed up. They vowed to camp overnight at the Democracy Monument.
Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, Pol Lt Gen Phakkhaphong Phongphetra, travelled to the rally site to command officers providing security there. He confirmed the rally was staged without permission.
Metropolitan police officers read a statement on violations against the emergency decree to the protesters.
Deputy spokesman for the Royal Thai Police Pol Col Kissana Phathanacharoen said national police chief Pol Gen Chaktip Chaijinda expressed concerned over the young protesters.
"Expressions of different political views are permissible as long as they do not violate the laws or other people’s rights," he said.
Move Forward Party spokesman Nattacha Boonchaiinsawat said he agreed with the groups’ demands for the government.
If the students were prosecuted for protesting yesterday, MPs of the Move Forward Party would step out to protect them, he said.
The demonstration ended at about midnight, when Tattep “Ford” Ruangprapaikitseree, secretary-general of the Free Youth group, and Juthathip Sirikan, chairwoman of the Student Union of Thailand, read a joint statement announcing the end of the rally, the Bangkok Post reported.
They cited safety concerns and the lack of facilities and public utilities to accommodate the large number of people who joined the rally as a reason for calling off the demonstration.
The rally began at about 5pm. The leaders initially planned for the rally to continue overnight and end the rally at 8am on Sunday with demonstrators singing the national anthem.
Mr Tattep said that by ending the rally earlier than previously planned did not mean the demonstrators had yielded to the government nor they had been pressured by the authorities to do so.
He said the demonstrators had given the government two weeks to consider their three-point demand for it to immediately dissolve parliament, rewrite the constitution and stop intimidating the people. If the government did not respond to the demand within two weeks, the group’s movement would be intensified, Mr Tattep added.
After the end of the rally, Rangsiman Rome, a Move Forward Party MP and former student activist who attended the rally as an observer, offerred to take the core leaders of the demonstration to their homes.
The rally ended peacefully. Nobody was detained or charged.