Thailand: police uses water cannons against protesters, at least 12 arrestedEvent
- Initial Date
- Oct 16, 2020
- Event Description
Police in full riot gear have used water cannons to crackdown on thousands of protesters gathering at the Pathumwan Intersection, defying the ban on mass gatherings imposed during the severe state of emergency.
The protest, which was scheduled to begin at 17.00 on 16 October, was originally planned to take place at the Ratchaprasong Intersection, where a mass protest also took place yesterday (15 October) following the crackdown on the protest at the Government House in the early morning of 15 October.
However, by 15.00, police officers have already set up barriers at the Ratchaprasong Intersection and the Pratunam Intersection, blocking off the area. They also blocked smaller streets and stopped pedestrians and vehicles from going into the area.
Police officers also raided the offices of the Progressive Movement, a group formed by banned members of the now-dissolved Future Forward Party, during Piyabutr Saengkanokkul’s press conference.
At 16.30, police in full riot gear were seen lining up at the Ratchaprasong Intersection, blocking off traffic. Officers carrying batons were also seen near the police headquarters.
The student activist group Free Youth then announced that the protest will be moving to the Pathumwan Intersection.
By 17.00, protesters have already occupied half of the intersection, and Phayathai Road was closed from the MBK shopping centre towards the Ratchatewi BTS Station.
Prior to the protest, the BTS Sky Train announced that the Ratchatewi Station and Ratchadamri Station have been closed. After the location change, the Siam Station and the National Stadium Station were also closed. The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority also announced that all public bus and van will not be traveling close to the protest area and will not stop at any stop within the 5-kilometre radius of the Ratchaprasong Intersection. The Samyan MRT Station was also later closed.
At 18.50, as it began to rain heavily, police officers in full riot gears moved into the area near the Siam BTS Station and fired water cannons at the protesters, as well as pushing into them with their shields. There were reports that the water contained chemical irritants and was stained blue with long-lasting paint, as well as reports of the police using a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).
On Phayathai Road, a large crowd of protesters, many of whom were high school students in uniforms, ran out from the Pathumwan Intersection and into the nearby Chulalongkorn University, where the student group Nisit Chula Party have designated a safe zone and have been on standby in case of a crackdown. Student representatives stood by the gates with megaphones telling protesters to come inside the campus.
People gathered at the Faculty of Political Science, where student volunteers and several lecturers were handing out bottles of water and organizing people into groups so they can leave through the nearest gate to the closest BTS and MRT stations. They also provided ammonia and water for people who got sprayed with the blue paint to clean themselves, as well as handing out shirts for them to change.
At 18.57, police officers were ordered to drop their shield and arrest the protesters. There were also reports of officers preparing use tear gas on the protesters.
At 19.20, the police reportedly used tear gas in the Siam BTS Station area, according to a nearby Prachatai reporter and an observer from iLaw, who said they were hit with some kind of chemical irritant. A reporter from PPTV who was doing a live broadcast nearby also said that they felt some irritation on their face and in their eyes, and that the water the police fired at the protesters may have some chemical mixed in.
At 21.05, the police ordered all protesters and reporters to leave the Pathumwan Intersection area or be arrested. Five minutes later, they were firing water cannon at protesters on the Rama 1 side of the intersection and moving towards the National Stadium BTS Station.
At 22.25, shield-carrying officers marched to the Hua Chang bridge, near the Ratchatewi BTS Station, where a group of people are still gathering and announced that everyone must leave in 20 minutes. However, at 22.30, police officers fired water cannon at the group. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) also reported there was an announcement for the protesters, who were pushed back to the Ratchatewi Intersection, to be arrested.
TLHR also said that officers were running after protesters who ran into Soi Phaya Nak and arresting them, and that they also arrested a number of protesters closest to the police line.
At 23.15, traffic resumed at the Pathumwan Intersection.
TLHR said that at least 12 protesters were arrested during the 16 October crackdown and were brought to the Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters in Pathum Thani, including student activist Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, a leading member of Free Youth, activist Anurak “Ford” Jentawanich, and Prachatai reporter Kitti Pantapak.
One of those arrested was an employee at a restaurant near Hua Chang Bridge. He was arrested at around 22.00 and also taken to the Border Patrol Police Region 1 headquarters.
Under the severe state of emergency, the government imposed a ban on gatherings of more than five people, allows state officials to arrest people and detain them for 30 days without informing them of the charges against them, and banned the publication of information that “could create fear,” affect national security, or damage public morale.
The protest organisers issued a statement condemning the use of force against the protesters, and announced that there will be another demonstration on Saturday (17 October) at 16.00 at a location that is still unspecified.
- Gender of HRD
- Other (e.g. undefined, organisation, community)
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Judicial Harassment
- Restrictions on Movement
- Violence (physical)
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of assembly
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Right to liberty and security
- Right to Protest
- Media Worker
- Pro-democracy activist
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 16 October 2020, police used water cannons against peaceful protesters staging a rally, arrested at least 12 including media workers, pro-democracy and youth defenders in Bangkok, Thailand.