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Small groups defy police ban with sporadic protests on Bangkok streets
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2022
Despite a police ban on protests near the Apec Summit venue and Government House, small groups of protesters tested police limits on Thursday morning by launching mobile and sporadic protests.
On Thursday morning, the Royal Thai Police reiterated the ban on gathering near Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre (QSNCC) and Government House, but to no avail, as protesters threatened to rally there.
Late Thursday morning, a group of demonstrators tried to descend on Asoke Intersection near the QSNCC. They held banners demanding that Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha resign.
The protesters gathered in front of the Terminal 21 shopping mall and attempted to approach Asoke Intersection, clashing with crowd-control police a few times.
Officers promptly seized protest symbols and signs and pushed back the demonstrators towards the shopping mall away from the entrance to MRT’s Sukhumvit subway station.
Police remained stationed at the intersection to prevent the rallyists from advancing on the MRT station and on to the QSNCC.
Meanwhile, at the Lan Khon Muang ground in front of City Hall, a group of so-called “Citizens Stopping Apec 2022” continued their demonstration for a second day. The group organised a seminar at 10am on how Apec governments have “damaged the environment”.
A moment later, a group of 20 protesters rode four pickup trucks to Democracy Monument, which is not far away from Government House.
The demonstrators put up a large cloth banner at the monument. But crowd-control police swooped in immediately and seized the banner. Officers gave the group an ultimatum: return to Lan Khon Muang or face arrest.
Later, at 10.30am, another group of rallyists demonstrated in front of Siam Cement’s headquarters to demand an end to the Apec Summit and call for the abrogation of the Bio-Circular-Green economic policy that the group claimed would benefit only investors.
It also painted protest signs on the road in front of the Siam Cement head office. Police later told them to disperse as they had not received permission to demonstrate there.
Earlier on Thursday, Pol Maj-General Artchayon Kraithong, spokesman of the security and traffic operations command for the summit, told a press conference that security forces would not tolerate protests in front of the QSNCC after threats from a protester group.
Artchayon said the Rassadorn 63 group and 13 networks would hold a “What is happening in Thailand?” protest and try breaking through police barriers to rally in front of the QSNCC.
He said the National Police chief had instructed officers not to tolerate any attempt by protesters to break through the barriers.
Police would also enforce the ban against demonstrations on Bangkok streets near 19 hotels where Apec leaders are staying, the spokesman added.
“If the protesters try to enter prohibited areas, police will have to enforce the law. Police have prepared forces and equipment to control the crowd, but we will use them in accordance with the situation,” Artchayon promised.
“Protesters will not be allowed to enter prohibited areas at all,” he made it clear.
Police will also not allow the demonstrators at Lan Khon Muang to move to Asoke Intersection, Artchayon said.
Officers will not block protesters from other provinces from entering Bangkok, but police will question them about their goals and destinations first as well as check their belongings, Artchayon added.