Thailand's government faces a continuing protest campaign that last year brought thousands of people, mostly young, out on the streets to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his cabinet, constitutional changes drafted with proper public consultation, and reform of the monarchy under the constitution.
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Here are the latest developments:
Thursday, March 11 (Bangkok time)
3:20 p.m. The Constitutional Court rules in favor of a proposed charter amendment that will establish a constitution drafting assembly. The ruling enables parliament to sanction an overhaul of the 2017 constitution. The court inserts two national referendums into the process. The first is to decide whether any amendments are necessary; the second is to approve any amendments that are made.
Tuesday, March 9
5:30 p.m. Activists dressed in black appear outside the Criminal Court in Bangkok and lay a wreath at the gates expressing condolences for the "death of the country's justice system" by denying bail to pro-democracy leaders and keeping them locked up in pre-trial detention.
1:50 p.m. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha interrupts his own news conference to spray hand sanitizer on bemused reporters to avoid answering questions about a cabinet reshuffle. Three cabinet posts have been vacant since last month when Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Education Minister Natapol Teepsuwan, and Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senniam were forced out of office. The three were among 25 people found guilty of insurrection in 2014.
Monday, March 8
4:45 p.m. Criminal Court in Bangkok denies bail to three more leading protest figures: Panusaya "Ruang" Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong "Mike Rayong" Jadnok and Jatupat "Pai Dao Din" Boonpattararaksa. They have all been charged with lese-majeste.
The Office of the Attorney General notified 18 protesters in all of their indictments earlier in the day. The young group went from the office to the court, where bail applications for the top three were denied but granted to the other 15.
Saturday, Feb 20
9:00 p.m. Saturday's rally ends slightly earlier than planned. The protest remained peaceful throughout the day.
The crowd highlights an issue known as "elephant tickets" -- bribes paid by military or police officers to win an early promotion. The issue was raised by an opposition lawmaker in the censure debate.
4:10 p.m. Activist leader Panusaya "Ruang" Sithijirawattanakul arrives outside parliament. She tells the media that the rally will be peaceful. Organizers say the plan is to wrap up by 9:30 p.m.
3:00 p.m. A rally begins as planned outside parliament even though a censure motion against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and nine of his ministers was voted down in the morning, and parliament is virtually empty.
1:00 p.m. Shipping containers are installed to block access to Sanam Luang, a large open area in front of the Grand Palace. Saturday's rally is being staged outside parliament some 5.5 kilometers north of Sanam Luang. With voting in parliament completed, the authorities were concerned demonstrators might change the rally location at the last minute, or march there from the original venue. Last weekend, protesters marched from Democracy Monument to the City Pillar, a shrine near the Grand Palace. That ended up with a skirmish between police and protesters that resulted in injuries on both sides.
11:15 a.m. Voting is conducted briskly, and all the ministers up for censure survive, including Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, due to the majority held by the ruling coalition. Although widely expected, the failure to dent the government by parliamentary means could raise the temperature at the afternoon protest. The ouster of Prayuth and his cabinet has been one of three key demands of young pro-democracy protesters since July.
10.30 a.m. Parliament reconvenes to vote on the censure motion without further debate.
Friday, Feb. 19
11:15 p.m. The house wraps up the parliamentary censure debate against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and nine ministers. Protesters outside begin to disperse at much the same time. There have been no clashes between demonstrators and police reported. Lawmakers are due to resume the censure debate at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. Protesters plan a rally outside at 3 p.m.
8:00 p.m. The crowd is small compared to rallies staged last year. Parliament is relatively poorly served by public transport, and this may have affected the turnout. Influenced by recent protests in Myanmar, some protesters carry kitchenware to bash noisily, but the lack of participants limits their ability to create a significant noise nuisance.
7:20 p.m. A few hundred protesters are gathered outside parliament where a temporary stage has been erected that blocks half the four-lane road. Speakers display pictures of ministers being censured, and comment on why they should be removed from office.
11:30 a.m. Numerous police vehicles, including water trucks are drawn up near parliament, where a pro-democracy rally is scheduled for 5 p.m. as lawmakers debate a censure motion against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his cabinet. The parliamentary session will be projected on a big screen outside. This is the second no-confidence motion Prayuth and his cabinet have fended off after the first in February 2020. The police say they will deploy more than 10,000 officers in Bangkok over the weekend to maintain law and order with the protests expected to continue.
Wednesday, Feb. 17
11:00 a.m. The Office of the Attorney General has deferred its decision until Mar. 8 on whether to prosecute young protest leaders -- among them Panusaya "Ruang" Sithijirawattanakul and Panupong "Mike Rayong" Jadnok -- on lese-majeste and other charges. This will allow them to attend protests planned for this Friday and Saturday outside parliament while lawmakers debate a routine censure motion against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's cabinet.
Tuesday, Feb. 16
1:30 p.m. Pro-democracy protest leader Panusaya "Ruang" Sithijirawattanakul visits the Constitutional Court, the Ministry of Justice, the Criminal Court, the Royal Thai Police headquarters, and the Office of the Prime Minister to read out and submit an open letter urging government agencies to respect human rights and freedom of speech.
9:30 a.m. A four-day censure debate against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's cabinet begins in parliament. Lawmakers are due to vote on Saturday, but the government is not expected to lose. The resignation of Prayuth and his cabinet has long been of three key demands of pro-democracy demonstrators. The other two -- also so far ignored -- are revision of the constitution with public consultation, and reform of the monarchy under the constitution.
Saturday, Feb. 13
9:00 p.m. Some demonstrators are unhappy and refuse to disperse because they feel the event is inconclusive. Trouble erupts when they start throwing projectiles at the line of police barring their way to the Grand Palace. Scuffles kick off, and a few dozen explosions are heard. Footage shows some demonstrators being beaten down. Authorities later confirm that 20 police officers were injured in the skirmishing, and at least seven protesters detained.
8:20 p.m. The crowd grows to over a thousand and marches to the City Pillar, a shrine near the Grand Palace, chanting against the recent return to frequent use of the law of lese-majeste. Student activist Panusaya "Ruang" Sithijirawattanakul calls time and asks people to go home safely after urging them to return for another protest planned for Sanam Luang in the same area on Feb. 20.
3:00 p.m. The People, a pro-democracy protest group, stages a rally at Democracy Monument near the administrative heart of Bangkok. The Demonstrators call for the immediate release of detained activists and abolition of the kingdom's draconian law of lese-majeste.
Wednesday, Feb. 10
9:00 p.m. After securing the release of the arrested protesters from Pathumwan police station, the rally's leader, Panusaya calls it a day after announcing a goal of two million people on the streets in 2021.
7:30 p.m. The crowd grows to over a thousand. Panusaya "Ruang" Sithijirawattanakul asks protesters to march together to Pathumwan police station to demand the release of more than 10 demonstrators arrested before they could join the peaceful protest.
4:00 p.m. Demonstrators start to gather at Pathumwan intersection in central Bangkok to protest against the detention of prominent activists ahead of their trials. The crowd used Myanmar-style pot-banging to make themselves heard. Students and workers from Myanmar also join to protest the military coup in their home country on Feb. 1. Political gatherings have been explicitly prohibited in Thailand since Dec. 28 due to the COVID-19 resurgence.
Tuesday, Feb. 9
6:00 p.m. A Thai criminal court denies bail on Tuesday to four top pro-democracy activists, including student activist Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak and human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa, who have been charged with lese-majeste and sedition among other alleged offenses.
Penguin and Arnon are key figures in the youth-led pro-democracy movement that erupted in July 2020. The other two activists, Patipan Luecha and Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, are also prominent.
Friday, Jan. 22
2:00 p.m. The first rally of the year led The People, a pro-democracy group, assembled peacefully for less than an hour. The demonstrators were denied entry to the Ministry of Finance, but protest leader Panupong "Mike Rayong" Jadnok successfully delivered a motion to a civil servant through a locked gate. The crowd was much smaller than at past rallies staged by the group. Although political gatherings are banned due to the COVID-19 resurgence in the kingdom, the police did not react forcefully or make arrests. "If there is no response by the Ministry of Finance before next Friday, we, The People, will return here once again in a spectacular way," said Mike Rayong.
Thursday, Jan. 21
8:50 p.m. Pro-democracy group The People announced plans to visit the Ministry of Finance at 1 p.m. on Friday to file a motion, and asked people to join the protest. The motion is for the ministry to review and ultimately redirect the budgets for the monarchy and military for disbursements to the general public.
Since Dec. 26, political gatherings have been banned due to the COVID-19 resurgence. A small protest by a different group was shut down by police on Saturday .
1:00 p.m. Former opposition leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit described the lese-majeste and computer crime charges against him as "politically motivated," insisting on his innocence at a news conference. The charges came two days after the 42-year-old billionaire broadcast on Facebook critical observations about Siam Bioscience, the company owned by King Maha Vajiralongkorn that has been contracted to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 for Thailand.
Wednesday, Jan. 20
1:30 p.m. The Digital Economy and Society Ministry directed the police technology crime division to file charges of lese-majeste and computer crimes against Thanathorn Juangrooongruangkit, accusing the former political opposition leader of making 11 critical remarks about the monarchy during a Facebook broadcast.
Thanathorn questioned the transparency and wisdom of Siam Bioscience being given an exclusive contract to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 in Thailand. Siam Bioscience has been wholly owned by King Maha Vajiralongkorn since April 2020 after the company's shares were transferred into his name from the Crown Property Bureau. The company has no previous experience in vaccine production.
Saturday, Dec. 26
9:30 a.m. As the possibility looms of a second national COVID-19 lockdown, the government has upgraded an emergency decree put in place in March to deal with the pandemic. Protest gatherings have been unilaterally banned nationwide. The public has also been asked to refrain from risky behavior, and the movements of foreign laborers have been restricted.
The emergency decree had previously been in place until Jan. 15, but provincial governors have discretion to extend it if they see fit.
Thursday, Dec. 10
6:30 p.m. With all the planned activities for the day completed, many protesters began to disperse. Some chose to remain, however, and soak up the atmosphere. There is no work tomorrow during the long weekend that stretches from Thursday to Sunday. Neither side provided an estimate of the crowd size at its peak, and reporters found it difficult to see the entire crowd at any one time.
5:30 p.m. During a panel discussion at the main rally, Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak reveals himself as the author of a 10-point manifesto for reforming the monarchy that was first read out in August. "If lese-majeste is not abolished, something else should be abolished altogether -- the whole system," Parit said in conclusion.
2:40 p.m. Volunteer guards among the protesters approach barricades installed a few kilometers from the main rally to deny access to Government House, some key ministries and royal estates. There is a brief scuffle, but police prevent them cutting razor wire defenses and the barricades remain in place.
1:10 p.m. Georg Schmidt, Germany's ambassador to Thailand, says "human rights are universal and non-negotiable" in a Twitter post.
He quotes Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 72 years ago, which is celebrated each year on Dec. 10 as Human Rights Day: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."
Schmidt makes no reference to the protest underway in Bangkok against the controversial lese-majeste law, which is widely regarded as a violation of a number of basic freedoms.
For reasons that have never been made clear, Germany has become in recent years the preferred country of residence for King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Student-led protesters have raised questions about whether the king is conducting Thai affairs of state from German soil, and whether that would be legal.
12:30 a.m. Protesters at the United Nations ESCAP building started marching toward the 14 October 1973 Memorial to join the main rally. As they raised trademark three-finger salute, they shouted "Abolish 112." The law of lese-majeste is Article 112 of the criminal code.
11:00 a.m. A separate group of protesters gathered at the United Nations ESCAP building located about two kilometers northeast of the 14 October 1973 Memorial. One of them held up a banner saying "Repeal Lese Majeste Law." Representatives were admitted to the building to hand over a letter requesting international action.
10:10 a.m. Ahead of Thursday's rally, protest leaders held a news conference at the 14 October 1973 Memorial. "We join together to demand the abolishment of this legal provision," a protest leader said, reading out a prepared statement regarding lese-majeste in English. She insisted that the abolition of the law would help reduce political conflict in Thai society. The rally then formally kicked off.
9:10 a.m. Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak, Panusaya "Ruang" Sithijirawattanakul and other protest leaders arrive at the rally venue.
8:00 a.m. According to local reports, the remains of what appeared to be a detonated pipe bomb were found at the 14 October 1973 Memorial, which is the venue for Thursday's rally. No injuries have been reported, and it is not known who placed the bomb or when it went off. Meanwhile, authorities have again used shipping containers and razor wire to block nearby roads. Government House, various key ministries and royal estates are located relatively nearby.
Tuesday, Dec. 8
5:09 p.m. Free Youth announced on social media that the next student-led rally will be on Constitution Day, Thursday, Dec. 10, a public holiday. It commemorates the 1932 constitution adopted after the overthrow of absolute monarchy in Siam, and was the first of 20 constitutions Thailand has been through in the intervening years -- a world record. The theme will be lese-majeste, which is covered under Article 112 of the criminal code. The draconian, highly controversial law carries 15-year prison terms and is supposed to protect the king and senior royal figures from hurt and defamation. However, its profligate use following a coup in 2014 was judged by many to have damaged the country's "highest institution" by drawing it further into politics. The law has recently been dusted off after three years in abeyance to prosecute student leaders responsible for the most sustained and explicit public criticism of the once-revered monarchy in the 238-year history of the ruling Chakri dynasty. Following complaints, the first charges of lese-majeste were made by police on Nov. 30 against student leaders, some of whom have had to present themselves a second time since. Unusually, those facing charges have not been detained further.
Thursday, Dec. 3
1:02 p.m. Members of parliament in the ruling coalition condemned student-led protests over the previous day's Constitutional Court ruling in favor of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. Pareena Kraikupt of Palang Pracharat, the main ruling party, said legal action was needed against critics. Local media carried pictures of her filing a complaint the previous night against Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak under the Computer Crimes Act for posting false information. Thailand has a strong contempt of court law in its suite of anti-defamation legislation, but fair criticism of the Constitutional Court is allowed.
Wednesday, Dec. 2
9:02 p.m. Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak, one of the fiercest speakers among the student leaders, said the verdict in favor of Prayuth was entirely expected and that the Constitutional Court was redundant because it had failed to uphold the constitution. He tore up and burnt a copy of 'Thoughts, Knowledge and Political Power in the 1932 Siamese Revolution' by Nakarin Mektrairat, a sitting Constitutional Court judge who was previously vice rector of Thammasat University. Penguin also burnt a list of the names of all nine Constitutional Court judges.
6:00 p.m. Police call on protesters to disperse after they sang the national anthem on the grounds that the protest had not been properly notified to authorities in advance. Similar orders at previous protests have been ignored.
5:00 p.m. A makeshift stage is set up with a judge's bench on top, indicating the likely main subject of the protest. Thousands have already arrived, and organizers say the event could run beyond 10 p.m. -- significantly later than normal.
4:00 p.m. Protesters begin arriving at the Ha Yaek Ladprao intersection, but the crowd is not expected really grow until evening when people finish work. An allegedly government-compliant judiciary has long been a significant issue among those calling for reforms.
3:20 p.m. The Constitutional Court finds in Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's favor, enabling him to carry on as premier while residing in a military compound. The verdict was widely expected. "Most importantly, I am the prime minister, and security is necessary," Prayuth said in February. "It's important that there be an appropriate place for the leader of the country." Baan Phitsanulok, the neo-gothic official residence of the prime minister built in the 1920s, has rarely been used for this purpose.
2:15 p.m. Student advance guards begin preparing for a protest at the large Ha Yaek Ladprao intersection in northern Bangkok for a protest against the presumed dismissal of a case brought in the Constitutional Court against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. Prayuth has been accused of illegally occupying a military residence long after his retirement as army chief in 2014. If the verdict goes against him, it could see his dismissal as premier. The court has removed other prime ministers, including Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014 for alleged corruption. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej was fired from office in 2008 for receiving small payments for his long-running television cookery show, which he had been giving to his driver.
Friday, Nov. 27
10:40 p.m. The rally, which lasted longer than most recent ones, is declared over. One of the protest leaders says details of the next demonstration will be revealed on Saturday. As usual, participants begin to gradually disperse after the organizer calls it a day.
7:45 p.m. The crowd has become much larger. Protest leader Panupong "Mike Rayong" Jadnok urges people to park vehicles at key Bangkok intersections in the event of a coup, to make it harder for the armed forces to deploy their weaponry.
6:30 p.m. The crowd swells to a few thousand, joining what has been themed an "anti-coup" drill. Demonstrators raise the three-finger salute against an inflatable alien doll, which represents the military and its repeated seizures of power. Thailand has experienced 13 successful coups in modern times, including the one in 2014 led by then-army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is now prime minister.
5:30 p.m. Hundreds of protesters have occupied northern Bangkok's Ladprao intersection after a slow start, ignoring a police warning not to demonstrate.
4:00 p.m. Today's pro-democracy rally has kicked off rather slowly. Protesters are coming to Ladprao intersection, the venue of the day, but there are not enough of them to occupy the crossing and stop traffic. More people are expected to show up later on, after work or school.
7:00 a.m. Organizers announce another protest in northern Bangkok for 4 p.m at the Ladprao intersection on the Viphavadi-Rangsit highway. The new venue is close to Siam Commercial Bank's headquarters, where Wednesday's protest was staged, and Chatuchak market. "This is a rehearsal to fight against a coup," tweets student leader Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak.
Wednesday, Nov. 25
10:15 p.m. An hour after the crowd disperses, a TV livestream shows an unidentified man throwing what police described as an improvised explosive device, evidently small. There were also reports of four or five shots being fired, of a protest guard being wounded in the stomach, and of his alleged assailant being beaten up. There was speculation that the violence developed out of an argument between vocational student groups from different technical colleges who have been acting as guards in the protests.
9:15 p.m. Protest leader Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak calls it a day after organizers announce the next protest rally on Friday at 4 p.m. and say that the venue will be revealed on Thursday.
7:45 p.m. King Vajiralongkorn finally arrives at Lumphini park after hours of delay. He briefly meets with the crowd, pays respect to the statue of King Rama VI, and leaves.
6:50 p.m. Sulak Sivaraksa, Thailand's most prominent social critic and an "engaged Buddhist" scholar, criticized Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha for his move to restore application of the lese-majeste law, which he claimed was against King Vajiralongkorn's will. In his speech in front of Siam Commercial Bank headquarters, Sulak said the king had instructed the attorney general and the Supreme Court not to use the law because it would tarnish the royal institution's reputation. This alone, Sulak said, should disqualify Prayuth from staying in his current position. "Let us respectfully kick him out of the office," he said. Sulak was also critical of the king's lifestyle. "His Majesty seems to be living lavishly overseas," he said. "Other than the national wealth transfer, he has also increased his own budget funded by taxpayers. I am shocked and would be ashamed if I were in his shoes. I wouldn't have done it myself."
6:30 p.m. Human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa was critical of the king's transfer of Crown Property Bureau assets into his own name using the Crown Property Act. "We will propose a new asset management act in order to take all the transferred assets back entirely using parliament," he said.
5:30 p.m. Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak arrives on a carnival lorry dressed as a duck to press his demand for an investigation into King Maha Vajiralongkorn's wealth and spending habits.
4:30 p.m. Stock Exchange of Thailand afternoon trading session closes with Siam Commercial Bank stock up 2.28% at 89.75 baht per share.
4:00 p.m. King Vajiralongkorn was scheduled to appear at Lumphini park at the time, but observers were told that his arrival will be delayed for one hour.
3:18 p.m. Shipping containers blocking access to the Crown Property Bureau include ones with Safmarine, P&O Nedlloyd, Hamburg Sud and Maersk Sealand liveries. The official account for A.P. Moller-Maersk, a global leader in container shipping, tweeted its concern that Maersk branded containers were being used as "barricades in recent unrest events" in Thailand. "These containers are not owned by Maersk, but sold in the open market to a third party," it said. Three hours later, it clarified the unexpected ding in its image: "We acknowledge that our used container resale processes have not been fully met, and we will consider additional measures for future sales." When Thai authorities used shipping containers in March 2009 to block off Government House from Red Shirt protesters, the Red Shirts brought in heavy cranes and dumped the steel containers in a nearby canal.
3:00 p.m. Traffic worsens in northern Bangkok as thousands of protesters converge for the start of a protest outside the headquarters of Siam Commercial Bank in the Chatuchak area.
2:30 p.m. Royalists start their own gathering at Lumphini Park in central Bangkok in hope to see King Vajiralongkorn, who will be visiting the park to pay respect to the statue of King Rama VI.
10:00 a.m. Siam Commercial Bank's shares trade up 2% in initial morning trade, and close later in the day up 2.28%.
5:00 a.m. Authorities barricade the road near the Crown Property Bureau with shipping containers and concrete blocks on suspicion that the change of protest venue is a diversionary tactic, aggravating already bad traffic conditions in the administrative part of the city.
1:00 a.m. Authorities augment surveillance systems around Siam Commercial Bank's headquarters.
0:30 a.m. Local media reports at least 12 pro-democracy leaders have received summonses similar to Penguin's requiring them to present themselves to police investigating lese-majeste and other alleged offenses.
Tuesday, Nov. 24
10:30 p.m. Free Youth announces that Wednesday's protest has been moved from the Crown Property Bureau in the administrative heart of the capital to Siam Commercial Bank's headquarters in northern Bangkok.
9 p.m. Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak reveals on Facebook that he must present himself to police on Dec. 1 to face charges of violating lese-majeste and computer crime laws.
Sunday, Nov. 21
4:00 p.m. A few thousand protesters rallied at Aksa Road in western Bangkok close to the Thawi Watthana palace King Maha Vajiralongkorn stays in when he visits from Germany. The king was not in the palace at the time. Billed as an art exhibition and fair, the protest reminded one reporter of a Red Shirt festival. Red Shirts staged protests in the same area during political upheavals in late 2013 and early 2014 led by their largest group, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, or UDD. Food stalls and street vendors were plentiful, and a "Hyde Park" stage was set up for political speeches. Although Red Shirts, who supported Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister removed in a coup in 2006, were more in evidence that at recent youth-led protests, a key student leader did address the crowd: Parit Chirawak, or Penguin, called for the lese-majeste law to be struck down. The controversial Article 112 of the criminal code is intended to protect the king, and was heavily used against Red Shirts and other political dissidents after a coup in 2014.
Saturday, Nov. 20
8:30 p.m. Exceptionally heavy rain flooded many of the capital's streets. An afternoon protest organized by the Bad Students, a high school group, was relocated to the Siam Square where there are more covered areas. Police had been notified of the event, and there were no incidents with only about 1,000 young people turning up. They were treated to a parody of the state of Thai society involving dancing dinosaurs. Many also had small yellow plastic ducks in their hair, recalling the large inflatable rubber ducks front line students used to protect themselves against police water cannons during serious clashes outside parliament on Tuesday. The protest ended at 21.59 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 19
1:08 p.m. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha warned in a statement that the full weight of the law will be brought to bear in response to ongoing youth-led protests that show no sign of abating. "It will be necessary for the government and the concerned security agencies to enhance our measures by enforcing all the pertaining laws against protesters who violate the law or infringe upon the rights and freedoms of other citizens," the prime minister said. This prompted speculation that there will be a return to prosecutions for lese-majeste which criminalizes any affront or threat to the monarch under Article 112 of the criminal code. Its use was curtailed in 2017 on the instructions of King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Critics of the law, the most draconian of its kind in the world with prison sentences of up to 15 years, have argued that its use severely damages the monarchy's image and embroils it in politics. Prayuth's hint at a harder line came three days after the state of emergency under which the country has been governed since March because of the COVID-19 threat was extended until January 15.
Wednesday, Nov. 18
8:00 p.m. Heavily masked protesters throw paint on the front railings of the nearby Royal Thai Police headquarters before heading home. Further protests have been announced for Saturday and next Wednesday.
6:30 p.m. An estimated 10,000 people have squeezed into the intersection and broad streets leading to it for a peaceful and uneventful protest that disperses relatively early. Parliamentarians are meanwhile winding up a two-day joint sitting, having discarded five out of seven proposals for reforming the constitution. The most radical proposal from iLaw, an extra-parliamentary civic group, has 70,000 signatures but fails to secure a second reading. This effectively dashes chances of revising the first two chapters of the constitution, which relate to the monarchy.
4:00 p.m. Demonstrators begin gathering at the Ratchaprasong intersection in upmarket retail and commercial area of Bangkok that has long been popular with protesters -- Red Shirts took over the area for months in 2010.
11:00 a.m. Consolidated figures from Erawan Medical Center, which collates information from different medical facilities, indicate that 55 people were injured on Tuesday, six of whom had gunshot wounds, apparently caused by .38 caliber handgun fire. More than half the people treated were suffering the effects of tear gas. No deaths have been reported.
1:30 a.m. At least 41 people are injured in clashes involving pro-reform demonstrators, royalist counterprotesters and police, according to Erawan Medical Center in Bangkok.
The hospital operator reports treating patients for gunshot wounds but offers no speculation on the source of the shootings.
Police fired water cannons to disperse crowds, but reportedly did not use rubber bullets. Yet a spokesperson said, "If there's a reason to, we would."
Tuesday, Nov. 17
5:05 p.m. Protesters get past a razor wire barricade, taking them 20 meters closer to the police lines. Reports that sterner measures are employed on the Boonrawd brewery side of the road, where use of tear gas is more intense. Yellow shirt protesters emerge from their enclosed area and start throwing missiles and other projectiles.
One protester is beaten over the head with a wooden plank, and retreats with head wounds. Missiles continue to fly in both directions, with front line pro-democracy protesters using large inflated rubber ducks to shield themselves. Protest numbers continue to grow, as the German national flag is waved in the background -- a reminder of King Maha Vajiralongkorn's usual country of residence.
4:50 p.m. Water cannons used for the eighth time. The water carries skin irritants and strong dyes, including purple.
4:00 p.m. As the parliamentary session continues, some opposition members emerge to talk with police in an attempt to defuse the situation. Senators and others wishing to leave are evacuated through the back door to a pier on the Chao Phraya river and depart by boat.
3:20 p.m. Police had announced that rubber bullets would be used to disperse the crowd in necessary, but when a countdown ended it was water cannon fire and tear gas that were used. Some protesters threw rocks back along with green and blue smoke bombs. Frontline protesters, many of whom are vocational students, shielded themselves with large inflated rubber ducks. The situation calmed after ten minutes, with the protesters ending up about 50 meters from the main police line. Their numbers had grown to about 1,000.
2:30 p.m. Police open up with a water cannon on an estimated 200 pro-democracy protesters who turned up early and tried unsuccessfully to penetrate the security cordon around parliament. The blue tanker used in the operation then moved off to replenish its water. A smaller number of royalists who had stayed on from the morning were being kept apart from the youngsters, and were not hosed by the police cannon. A reporter who got close to the royalist group said most were in their thirties and forties and very hostile to any scrutiny. Public buses had been parked tightly in the street by the authorities, and concrete barriers and razor wire put in place.
9:30 a.m. A few hundred royalists dressed in yellow gathered outside parliament to submit the eighth proposal rejecting any constitutional amendments at all. They were scheduled to disperse at noon, well before pro-democracy protesters were expected at 3 p.m.
9:00 a.m. Members of parliament convened to review seven proposals to amend Thailand's 20th constitution since 1932, which was only promulgated in 2017 following a national referendum in 2016. Five of the reform proposals came from opposition parties, and one from Palang Pracharat, the main party in the government coalition. The seventh proposal was from iLaw, which advocates a complete overhaul of the entire constitution including chapters one and two that relate to the monarchy.
Monday, Nov. 16
4:30 p.m. The United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, a major student-led group in the pro-democracy protests, plans a gathering outside parliament at 3 p.m. Tuesday, the organization said on Twitter. Lawmakers are due to begin debate on a constitutional amendment process at that time.
Ultraroyalist group Thai Pakdee, or "Loyal Thai," said on Facebook that it will stage a protest against constitutional amendments in the same place at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The right-wing group is led by Warong Dechgitvigrom, a former member of parliament from the Democrat Party. In September, the group said it gathered over 130,000 signatures opposing constitutional amendments. Warong established the group in August, soon after students at Thammasat University read out a 10-point reform agenda for the monarchy.
The National Office of Buddhism issued another order Nov. 11 barring monks and novices from protests. Monks are not allowed to vote or participate in politics, but some were seen at a Nov. 8 protest near the Grand Palace. They were complaining about the requirement that they shave their eyebrows regularly.
Doubts have been raised over whether all the young men in saffron robes seen at rallies are genuine monks. Such individuals who violate monastic edicts risk being defrocked, but there have been no reports of this happening. On Oct. 30, the Sangha Supreme Council, Thailand's highest religious authority, decreed that temples should not be used for political activities and reminded that Buddhist clergy should stay out of politics.
Saturday, Nov. 14
6:58 p.m. Young protesters complete wrapping the pumpkin-shaped Democracy Monument in a massive white tarp covered in graffiti. White is the color of the ribbons protesters have taken to wearing as a sign of peaceful defiance.
5:30 p.m. A royal motorcade with King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida passed Democracy Monument. Hundreds of mainly high school students refrained from holding up derogatory banners, but stood with their backs to the convoy and hands raised in three-finger salutes as organizers played the national anthem loudly.
2:00 p.m. Hundreds of members of the Bad Students group rallied outside the education ministry with a coffin for Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan before setting off for Democracy Monument.
Thursday, Nov. 12
2:22 p.m. Panupong Suwannahong, 18, a leading member of the Bad Students group, told Nikkei Asia that he expects as many as 600 students to march Saturday from the Education Ministry to Democracy Monument. The group represents high school students and has some provincial support, with 34,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter. It has campaigned for educational reform and the abolition of outdated school rules, including uniform and haircut requirements.
"At Democracy Monument, we will announce a new demand, and it will be an escalation," Panupong said.
A particular target is Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan, 56, a deputy leader of the Palang Pracharat party, which heads the government coalition. Nataphol once was a parliament member with the Democrat Party. He bailed out in 2013 to join the People's Democratic Reform Committee, which orchestrated street protests to destabilize the elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and to prevent an orderly general election.
1:00 p.m. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, whom young protesters want to resign, carried on with business as usual. He joined a teleconference with other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Premier Li Keqiang of China. "A friend in need is a friend indeed," Prayuth said in his statement, according to his press office.
11:00 a.m. Move Forward posted on Line that Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit plans to continue his campaign activities supporting the party in southern Thailand in Phang Nga Province. That is about 150 km west of the royalist protest against him Wednesday in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Wednesday, Nov. 11
9:59 a.m. Over 30 royalists in yellow shirts with megaphones, placards and portraits of King Maha Vajiralongkorn blocked the entrance to Ravadee Hotel in southern Thailand's Nakhon Si Thammarat early this morning.
Hotel guests included Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, 41, whose opposition Future Forward emerged as the third largest party after Thailand's general election in 2019. The party, which won strong support from first-time voters and young urbanites, was dissolved in February by the Constitutional Court over financial irregularities, and Thanathorn was banned from politics for 10 years.
The party has been reinvented as Move Forward, and Thanathorn was there to support its candidate in a local administration election. He did the same thing Tuesday in Chachoengsao Province east of Bangkok.
The anti-Thanathorn protesters, who believe he is a key backer of recent student protests nationwide, were mostly kept behind police barriers. They did try unsuccessfully to prevent an SUV with darkened windows they believed belonged to Thanathorn from leaving the hotel car park. The Move Forward event was called off.
Tuesday, Nov. 10
5:45 p.m. King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida arrived at Udon Thani air force base in northeastern Thailand to preside over a ground-breaking ceremony for a provincial family court. An honor guard was waiting to receive them, and there were shouts from the crowd of "Long live the king." Although, Queen Suthida autographed a photograph, the king did not mingle with members of the crowd as he has on a number of recent occasions.
Sunday, Nov. 8
9:05 p.m. Protest leader Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon, known to most as 'Mind,' called a halt to the demonstration. Four red wheelie bin mailboxes were rolled for protesters to 'post' their letter to the king, and left behind. They were taken to nearby Chana Songkhram police station. An officer there said they would not be forwarded to the palace because correct protocols for addressing the king had not been followed.
6:15 p.m. Police opened up with two short bursts of water cannon fire that caused minor injury to some protesters and to a policeman. Police later described the incident as a "mistake". Some public buses parked to obstruct the march were pushed out of the way, but other obstacles remained in place barring access to the Grand Palace perimeter and the nearby Chambers of the Privy Council.
4:00 p.m. Pro-democracy protesters gathered at Democracy Monument after a small group or royalists sang the national anthem in the same area and dispersed without incident. The crowd, which later exceeded 10,000, marched along Ratchadamnoen Avenue to Sanam Luang, a large grassy area in front of the Grand Palace, with the intention of delivering letters addressed personally to King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
7:12 a.m. Arnon Nampa, 36, a human rights lawyer and one of the key leaders of the pro-democracy movement posted an open letter to the king on Facebook as protesters prepare to stage a rally at Democracy Monument in central Bangkok at 4 p.m. Arnon wrote the letter from Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, where he faces a number of charges. "Today, we the people will gather on the Ratchadamnoen Avenue and will send you hundreds of thousands -- or millions -- of letters and hope they will catch your attention," he wrote.
Saturday, Nov. 7
6:43 p.m. Key pro-democracy groups Free Youth and Free People posted a message to the king on social media: "If your words, 'We love them all the same,' are true, you should accept letters from everyone, not just those in yellow shirts who shout loudly 'Long live the king.' Treat everyone the same."
Pro-democracy groups on Friday urged their supporters to write letters to the king. They also announced a rally at Bangkok's Democracy Monument at 4 p.m. "Sunday's rally is going to be the biggest march ever," they said.
Royalists plan to counter the rally. "Let's gather at Democracy Monument on Nov. 8 to observe whether there's anyone who would insult the monarchy," one social media post reads. They plan to meet there two hours earlier, raising concerns about a possible clash.
12:10 p.m. Pro-democracy group Free Youth posts a banner on social media. "We encourage you to write your own letters to be submitted to our king," the banner said in urging participants to gather at Bangkok's Democracy Monument at 4 p.m. on Nov. 8. Sunday rally is going to be the biggest march ever, they say.
Wednesday, Nov. 4
7:25 p.m. Leaders of the pro-democracy protests dismiss Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's proposal to set up an inclusive committee to find ways to break the current political impasse.
"We will not take part in any committee set up by the government," Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, or 'Pai Dao Din,' told reporters on Wednesday evening at Sanam Luang, a large open area in front of the Grand Palace.
Tuesday, Nov. 3
6:44 p.m. "It is our consensus that there's no change and no compromise," pro-democracy leader Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree told Nikkei Asia on Tuesday. "I don't see any chance of compromise or talks," another leader Passaravalee Thanakijvibulphol, or 'Mind,' echoed.
They were reacting to King Maha Vajiralongkorn's rare message to his people on Sunday night hinting at possible compromise.
"Your majesty, sir, these people love you, but what do you say to the protesters?"
"Thailand is the land of compromise," the king responded to foreign media as he mingled with an estimated 8,000 royalists outside the Grand Palace on Sunday night.
Monday, Nov. 2
11:59 p.m. Arnon Nampa, a human rights lawyer, was released from Bangkok Remand Prison after being detained for more than 20 days.
"We will not stop fighting until we get what we want," said Arnon after his release from jail on Nov. 2.
Sunday, Nov. 1
11:01 p.m. "We love them all the same," King Maha Vajiralongkorn said on Sunday evening as he mingled with an estimated 8,000 royalists outside the Grand Palace. He was answering Jonathan Miller, correspondent for Channel 4 News in the U.K. and U.S.-based CNN.
"Your majesty, sir, these people love you, but what do you say to the protesters?"
"I have no comment," the king initially responded during his unexpected 37-second encounter. "Is there any room for compromise, sir?" Miller asked. "Thailand is the land of compromise," the king said, before moving away as Queen Suthida shouted back: "We also love you."
The king sent Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya, his second daughter, back to elaborate with Miller. "We love Thai people, no matter what, and this country is peaceful," she told him.
Saturday, Oct. 31
3:30 p.m. King Maha Vajiralongkorn is today expected to preside over the graduation ceremony at Thammasat University in Bangkok. The public university is known as the campus where some of the key pro-democracy protests demanding the reform of the monarchy originated from.
The graduation ceremony was postponed from its original schedule in April due to COVID-19 pandemic. Saturday is the final day of the two-day ceremony. On Friday, some of the students boycotted the ceremony, according to local media.
Friday, Oct. 30
3:00 a.m. From online crowdfunding to apps that can deliver "secret" messages, Thailand's youth-driven protests have used digital technology to stay a step ahead of authorities, often borrowing techniques honed by their counterparts in Hong Kong.
Telegram, possibly the most widely used app by Thai pro-democracy activists, shields messages from third parties and has become the go-to for communication. The app's "secret chat" feature uses end-to-end encryption to exchange cloud-based messages that can be programmed to disappear after a set amount of time.
Telegram downloads skyrocketed in Thailand about two weeks ago. Average daily downloads jumped to as high as 57,000, according to U.S. tracker Sensor Tower, or roughly 30 times the figure before the protests began to intensify.
Thursday, Oct. 29
17:00 p.m. Youth-led pro-democracy protesters are set to rally at 5 p.m. on Silom Road in the capital's financial district. They will continue to condemn the government for the incident at Pathumwan Intersection on Oct. 16 when police used water cannon and tear gas against crowds of mostly high school and college students.
11:58 a.m. Pol. Maj. Gen. Piya Tavichai, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, told Nikkei Asia that police are investigating the march to the German embassy led by leaders including Patsaravalee "Mind" Tanakitvibulpon on Oct. 26. Piya hinted that police could issue around 16 arrest warrants, including one to Patsaravalee. "The charges could range from violating the Public Assembly Act to sedition and other crimes if [the protesters] are found to have destroyed any public assets," Piya said, adding that the investigation "could take a few more days."
Wednesday, Oct. 28
2:51 p.m. Thai lawmakers are giving themselves another stage upon which to discuss a solution to the current political impasse, after having failed to come up with a convincing response to pro-democracy protesters during a two-day special parliamentary session that closed on Tuesday. "The cabinet agreed to set up a committee to find a solution," Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said. "The committee will involve members of parliament, senators and various stakeholders," he said, though he did not elaborate on who the "various stakeholders" will be.
Tuesday, Oct. 27
5:50 p.m. "Do you want to be a tyrant or hero?" Wisarn Techatirawat, a lower house member from the leading opposition Pheu Thai Party asks as he demands Prayuth resign and slits his own arm a few times with a knife to show his determination.
4:24 p.m. A very small group of ultraroyalists protests in front of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, airing a conspiracy theory floated by a Russian-paid troll based in Bangkok that Washington has been using the pro-democracy movement to interfere in Thai politics. "Your job in Hong Kong was good but it doesn't work for Thailand," read a sign that was directed at Ambassador Michael DeSombre, who had been chairman of Save the Children Hong Kong from 2015 until he took the ambassadorship this year.
9:30 a.m. The second day of the joint session of the lower and upper houses starts with the opposition calling on Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to resign. Prayuth asks House Speaker Chuan Leekpai for permission to reply. "If there had been no coup back [in 2014], would there have [been a] riot?" Prayuth prodded. "Have you forgotten what you did then that caused the chaos and corruption? You seem to have a short memory."
Monday, Oct. 26
4:43 p.m. The German embassy of Thailand issues a statement ahead of the scheduled pro-democracy demonstration there. "The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany recognizes the right of peaceful assembly of the citizens of the Kingdom of Thailand, including in proximity to the embassy," according to the statement. The staffer at the embassy could not immediately confirm the validity of the statement although it has a letterhead.
3:49 p.m. Ahead of a pro-democracy march scheduled for 5 p.m., a small group of royalists in yellow shirts appeared in front of the German embassy in the early afternoon.
Nititorn Lumlua, a lawyer leading the group, said his intention is to supply Germans with accurate information about the political situation in Thailand.
The group submitted a letter to an official from the embassy. The group said it intends to leave before the pro-democracy marchers arrive.
3:11 p.m. The parliament reconvenes for a special session from 9 a.m. on Monday. "We have a two-day opportunity in parliament to discuss important matters, to collaborate, to think together, and to be constructive for the benefit of the country," said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha in his opening remarks.
Sompong Amornwiwat, leader of the largest opposition Pheu Thai Party, said Prayuth should resign for mismanaging the conflict. The opposition leader urged the prime minister to be open-minded to demands from the young protesters, and to stop delaying the drafting of a new constitution. He also insisted on the release of detained protesters, which he said would calm the situation down.
Paiboon Nititawan, a member of Palang Pracharat Party in the ruling coalition, said a national referendum should be held to see if Thai citizens agree with protesters' demands. "I believe a majority of Thai people would disagree with the rally that violates the monarchy institution," Paiboon said in parliament.
Sunday, Oct. 25
8:15 p.m. Demonstrators once again filled streets in the heart of Bangkok this evening, after Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha lifted his severe emergency declaration but refused to quit.
The coming week could be a pivotal one, as the protesters strive to keep the pressure on and the government looks for solutions.
All eyes will be on a planned rally at the German Embassy on Monday -- chosen because the king spends most of his time in the country. The same day, as well as Tuesday, parliament will convene for a special session to discuss the unrest.
9:55 a.m. Protesters are set to return to the streets after Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha ignored their deadline to resign.
Pro-democracy activist Jatupat Boonpattararaksa will be staging a rally from 4 p.m. on Sunday. The protest will be held at Ratchaprasong intersection, one of the largest crossings in Bangkok's commercial and retail core. A rally at the same place on Oct. 15 attracted thousands.
On Monday, another protest is planned outside the German Embassy -- a symbolic move given Thailand's king spends most of his time in the European country.
Saturday, Oct. 24 (Bangkok time)
2:45 a.m. The weekend brings the end of the three-day deadline that protesters have given Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to resign.
As the world waits for the outcome, two pieces of commentary on Nikkei Asia illustrate the grievances and historical backdrop to today's unrest.
In an op-ed, Kyoto University associate professor Pavin Chachavalpongpun writes:
"High school and university students have proved themselves to be anything but the self-absorbed, selfie-loving snowflakes so many used to dismiss. While the early focus was on the government's resignation and constitutional reform, they finally shattered the long-held taboo on open discussion of the monarchy, articulating a 10-point plan to bring it back under the constitution."
Toru Takahashi, Nikkei's editor-in-chief for Asia, notes differences with past explosions of popular unrest in Thailand that he covered as a reporter.
"There are no prominent central figures in the protests and no firm organization. Several groups work loosely together and make decisions online. As a result, they have been able to continue organizing rallies and mobilizing demonstrators even after leaders were arrested.
But this strength of these digitally native protests has a major weakness as its flip side. There seems to be no exit strategy for what happens if shouting in the streets does not produce political change."
Friday, Oct. 23
10:30 p.m. Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and other members of the royal family mingled with yellow-shirted supporters on Chulalongkorn Day, a holiday commemorating the king also known as Rama V, who died in 1910.
11:10 a.m. Today is a holiday in Thailand to commemorate King Rama V.
On Wednesday, the youth-led protesters delivered a draft resignation letter for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to his deputy secretary. They gave the prime minister three days to sign it.
Since then, there have been small rallies across the country, on both the pro-democracy and ultraroyalist sides. However, the organizers of the recent large protests in Bangkok have been relatively quiet, apparently awaiting Prayuth's response.
The organizers have not clarified what they'll do when the three-day deadline expires.
12:45 a.m. UN Watch, the nongovernmental organization, blasts the United Nations Human Rights Council for inaction.
Thursday, Oct. 22
6:55 p.m. United Nations experts urge the Thai government to guarantee the fundamental rights of peaceful assembly and free speech.
1:00 p.m. In addition to lifting the emergency, key protest leader Patsaravalee "Mind" Tanakitvibulpon has been released on bail. She was arrested Wednesday night after the march to Government House.
Several protest leaders remain in police custody, however, despite demonstrators' insistence that they, too, be released.
Here's Mind at last night's march, before she was detained.
12:00 p.m. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has rescinded the declaration of a severe emergency, effective at noon. The declaration had provided the government with a justification to restrict transportation and clamp down on protests.
2:43 a.m. Scenes from the march to Government House Wednesday evening before protesters delivered a draft resignation letter to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and dispersed.
Wednesday, Oct. 21
10:18 p.m. Scenes from the march to Government House.
9:35 p.m. Protesters begin to disperse after delivering a draft resignation letter to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha. The Prime Minister's Deputy Secretary emerged from Government House to receive the document from protester representatives. The demonstrators give three days for Prayuth to sign the letter.
A translation of the draft reads as follows:
"As I, Prayut Chan-ocha, have abused my authority, bought electoral votes, coerced a bandit constitution draft, bargained for my interests and jobs, and used the royal institution as an excuse to obtain my position as a prime minister.
In order to protect the honor of my family, of the prime minister, of the nation, and to show respect to the people to whom sovereignty belongs, I, Prayut Chan-ocha, the prime minister, would like to resign as a prime minister.
With my respect for the people,"
9:05 p.m. The crowd has reached Government House, or as close as they can get without breaking through the authorities' last lines of defense. There is a heavy security presence on hand, with barricades of vehicles and barbed wire blocking access. Local media reports say the police have water cannons at their disposal, while the demonstrators have brought umbrellas and helmets.
8:32 p.m. Demonstrators continue to march on a massive scale, notes Ian Bremmer, founder of Eurasia Group.
8:05 p.m. The march to Government House continues. Online accounts and local media reports suggest the crowd has broken through at least one police line, after approaching from multiple directions and prompting the officers to retreat. So far, the prime minister's attempt to "de-escalate" the situation does not seem to be working.
7:15 p.m. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, addressing the nation on TV, says he is "preparing" to lift the state of severe emergency soon as long as there is no violence.
He assures protesters that their voices have been heard. Noting that parliament will hold a special session on Oct. 26 and 27, he asks demonstrators to give him and lawmakers some time to discuss solutions.
"I ask the protesters to reciprocate with sincerity, to turn down the volume of hateful and divisive talk, and to let us, together, disperse this terrible dark cloud before it moves over our country," he says.
Meanwhile, thousands march toward Government House.
5:50 p.m. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is now expected to address the nation on TV at 7 p.m., rather than 6 p.m.
5:30 p.m. The crowd gathering at Victory Monument is expected to march to Government House, located roughly 3 km to the west. The police have prepared to seal the area with barbed wire.
5:10 p.m. A few thousand protesters have already gathered at Bangkok's Victory Monument. One of the pro-democracy groups hints at a march to an undisclosed location.
5:00 p.m. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha will give a televised address on the protest situation at 6 p.m., after the daily national anthem broadcast.
4:45 p.m. Local media reports show a crowd building at the Victory Monument and beginning to disrupt traffic. It's still early, though.
3:35 p.m. Alongside Bangkok's Victory Monument, The People adds two secondary venues for today's protests -- one near the Bangkapi mall and another at Ramkamheang University. Demonstrations are also planned in at least five other provinces.
3:10 p.m. The People, one of the rally organizers, advises demonstrators to gather at the Victory Monument roundabout in Bangkok, starting at 4 p.m. The venue was the site of a large protest on Sunday.
3:00 p.m. A court has ordered online service providers to block protest organizer Free Youth's accounts on all platforms, according to Deputy Permanent Secretary Puchapong Nodtaisong from the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society. "It doesn't matter even if you shut us down," Free Youth responds. "We are a movement."
On the other hand, in an apparent victory for press freedom, sweeping shutdown orders against Voice TV and three other online media outlets have been struck down in court, according to local reports.
12:00 p.m. Activist group The People calls on demonstrators to go to nearby train stations at 2 p.m., earlier than previous days. Rally venues are still to be announced.
Fellow organizer Free Youth says it will make another announcement at 3 p.m.
11:45 a.m. Toyota is under fire online after the leak of an internal document from the Japanese group's Thai unit. The memo advises employees to avoid commenting on the protests on social media, and warns that workers who disobey the government's emergency decree are subject "to be punished according to company regulations."
Toyota Daihatsu Engineering and Manufacturing admits the document circulated within the company. "We regret that a document for internal communication may have been misconstrued and shared in the public domain," a spokesperson tells Nikkei.
"We would like to categorically declare that Toyota, as a private company, does not have any specific political positions," he says. "In that context, the company does not have any intention to encourage or prohibit its employees from having or expressing their political stance in their personal capacity."
9:55 a.m. There has been no announcement of major protest action just yet, but organizers have hinted they intend to release an "important message" at noon. After a "surprise" rest day on Tuesday, barring some scattered rallies, the protesters may be looking to reassert themselves today.
Tuesday, Oct. 20 (Bangkok time)
Here are some scenes from the day.
10 p.m. Thailand receives a group of tourists from China, the first such arrivals since a ban on commercial flights was imposed in April to combat the coronavirus pandemic, even as street demonstrations escalate.
Thirty-nine tourists from Shanghai arrived at the country's main Suvarnabhumi Airport, the airport's deputy director, Kittipong Kittikachorn, said in a statement.
7:10 p.m. Although organizers have declared today a rest day, social media posts show crowds of people gathered at a couple of locations in Bangkok. It's unclear how long they'll stick around.
6:30 p.m. Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, one of the Thai youth movement's key leaders, speaks to the media outside a shopping mall in Bangkok. "I am no longer a leader because everyone is a leader," he says. Nikkei Asia spoke with him last month.
6:15 p.m. The organizers' "big surprise" turns out to be a decision to take a break from large rallies, though crowds did gather outside some stations. The plan is to stage a big protest tomorrow, they say, since the government decided to ignore their call to release all detained demonstrators and cancel the emergency.
4:35 p.m. As of now, SkyTrain operator BTS is saying it will provide service as usual, despite the call for demonstrators to stand by at its stations.
4:02 p.m. Organizers call on protesters to gather at train stations at 5:50 p.m., reiterating their warning of a "big surprise" if the government does not release all their allies and scrap the emergency decree.
3:00 p.m. No call for large rallies in Bangkok on Tuesday has been made so far. The protest leaders set 6:00 p.m. as their deadline for the government to meet their new demands of releasing detained leaders and canceling the emergency decree.
1:15 p.m. The online news site of cable channel Voice TV has been given a court order to close, after the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission and the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society conducted an investigation at the police's request. The probe determined that the content poses a threat to national security. As of 1:15 p.m., the website is still active.
1:10 p.m. The cabinet has approved a special parliamentary session on Oct. 26 and 27 to discuss the government's conflict with pro-democracy protesters. A general debate is to be held during a joint meeting with the House and the Senate, but no resolutions will be passed.
4:30 a.m. A Thai court grants bail to 19 people who had been arrested in connection with three months of protests against the government and the monarchy, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group.
Those released did not include any of the main protest leaders, the group says.
4:25 a.m. Thai protesters are learning a whole new language, developed within days to coordinate among crowds of thousands of people at demonstrations that have swollen in defiance of a government ban:
Hands point above head = need umbrella
Hands held over head = need helmet
Hands crossed over chest = enough supplies here
"Everyone has been helping each other out," said 19-year-old Riam, who like most protesters would only give one name. "At first, we had to work out what people were saying, but with the gestures, it's pretty easy to guess."
2:10 a.m. More than 100 current and former students of Oxford and Cambridge universities of the U.K. issue a strongly worded statement condemning the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Thailand.
Twitter:<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Earlier today, more than 100 young scholars who are studying or recently studied at Oxford and Cambridge wrote a strongly worded statement denouncing the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Thailand. 5/7 <a href="https://t.co/pEncVJInq1">pic.twitter.com/pEncVJInq1</a></p>— Andrew MacGregor Marshall (@zenjournalist) <a href="https://twitter.com/zenjournalist/status/1318250339678752768?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 19, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
1:38 a.m. The Thai government should immediately drop its emergency decree restricting the ability of the press to cover protests, the U.S. nonprofit organization Committee to Protect Journalists argues.
"Thai authorities should immediately revoke today's emergency decree, which amounts to severe censorship of the nation's press," says Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative. "There is no legitimate reason for Thai authorities to block coverage of the ongoing protests in the country, and the press must be allowed to work freely."
Monday, Oct. 19
11:18 p.m. BACKGROUNDER VIDEO | Why are young people protesting in Thailand (Financial Times)
11:10 p.m. BACKGROUNDER VIDEO | Thai Student Massacre Remembered (Financial Times)
9:03 p.m. Protest organizers lay out two fresh demands to be answered within 24 hours. It asks the government to release detained activists without any legal prosecution and also to revoke the declaration of a serious emergency situation. The protesters will prepare for "a surprise" if the demands are not met, protest organizer The People says.
7:30 p.m. The crowd swelled to thousands at Kaset intersection by around 7 p.m., but the organizer decides to call it a day.
7:07 p.m. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission says it received a letter from the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, ordering it to instruct internet and mobile service providers to block access to Telegram. The messaging app has been used by pro-democracy demonstrators to coordinate rallies, as well as businesses.
A few days ago, activist groups asked participants to switch from Facebook to Telegram as the main means for communication, as they feared that activist groups on Facebook might be taken down.
6:05 p.m. Thailand's lawmakers are eyeing ways to break the impasse as parties begin to make their stances known. A special session of parliament seems to be in the offing.
5:15 p.m. Social media posts show growing rallies in Bangkok for the sixth day in a row. Meanwhile, pictures emerge of Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong leading a small protest outside the Thai consulate in the city, showing solidarity with Thailand's demonstrators.
5:00 p.m. Bangkok Remand Prison, one of the rally venues for Monday, is where political activist Jatupat "Pai Dao Din" Boonpatararaksa and 20 others are being detained. They were arrested last Tuesday while staging a small protest at Democracy Monument, near the administrative heart of Bangkok. For the past few days, demonstrators have been chanting about freeing their allies.
4:30 p.m. Three main sites have been selected for today's protests in the Thai capital: the Ministry of Public Health Station on the MRT, Bangkok Remand Prison, and Kaset intersection down the road. All are in the north of the city, away from the most important central transport arteries -- possibly chosen in the hope of avoiding a weekday shutdown that could affect commuters' sentiment toward the movement.
3:45 p.m. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand has responded to the authorities' move to investigate four domestic media outlets, stressing that the national security grounds are "overly broad, and can easily be abused to silence reporting that is accurate but makes the government uncomfortable."
2:00 p.m. As expected, rally organizers call on protesters to head out again later this afternoon. But they haven't said exactly where the demonstrators should gather -- keeping the authorities guessing.
12:00 p.m. Thailand's stock market is holding its first trading session since Friday's water cannon crackdown. The benchmark SET index fell as much as 2.1% in the morning. The drop stands out in Asia, as most of the region's main indexes, except for Chinese ones, have been rising today.
11:45 a.m. Media censorship under the emergency decree is a hot topic this morning. The Thai police intend to push an investigation of four domestic outlets over their coverage of the protests, on the grounds that they may have distributed information that could "cause unrest in society."
The police will ask Thailand's broadcast regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission, and the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society to look into VoiceTV, Prachathai.com, The Reporters, and The Standard. Depending on the outcome, they could face suspensions.
The police say they are not controlling the media but "managing" it.
Sunday, Oct. 18 (Bangkok time)
Here are some scenes from the day.
9:02 p.m. Here's a short clip of the scene earlier this evening at Bangkok's Victory Monument -- a sea of people and cellphone lights.
8:40 p.m. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand issues a statement expressing concern about the safety of journalists covering the protests and the vague terms of the emergency decree. "The arrest, albeit temporary, of a Thai journalist on Friday night highlights the new risks for media in covering events," the statement reads.
8:30 p.m. The crowd at Victory Monument is gradually packing it in, though some people still occupy a portion of the roundabout. The organizer officially announced an end to the protest there at 8:20 p.m., slightly later than planned.
It's worth noting that Bangkok is not the only place where Thais took to the streets tonight. There have been local reports of rallies scattered across the country, including Chiang Mai, the province of Pathumthani and elsewhere. These protests also appear to have petered out for now.
8:00 p.m. The crowd at Asoke intersection clears out in a matter of minutes, calling it a day and making way for traffic to resume. The situation at Victory Monument remains to be confirmed.
7:30 p.m. The word is that organizers are looking to wrap up tonight's demonstrations by 8 p.m., again dispersing of their own accord. Let's see what the next half-hour brings.
6:30 p.m. Parliament President Chuan Leekpai has called an informal cross-party meeting to discuss how the legislature can contribute to ending the political tensions. Chuan says he has instructed parliamentary officials to prepare for a possible special session. The parliament is currently in recess and is scheduled to reconvene on Nov. 1.
6:15 p.m. It's raining in Bangkok again. Protesters have handed out raincoats. Those who would be on the front lines of a possible police crackdown have also been given umbrellas and helmets, just in case. The turnout at Victory Monument appears to number in the thousands.
The crowd at a secondary site, Asoke, is also large.
6:00 p.m. Thai broadcasters play the national anthem daily at 6 p.m. The crowd at Asoke intersection sings it, too, while giving the three-finger salute.
4:55 p.m. Some demonstrators are holding up pictures of protest leaders who have been detained by the authorities.
Though Victory Monument is the main site, social media posts show another growing gathering at the Asoke intersection.
4:25 p.m. Today's main protest site is Bangkok's Victory Monument. Images posted on social media show a crowd starting to build. Hoping to deter the young people who are driving the movement, the authorities have threatened that protesters who take and post selfies at the marches could face legal action.
2:41 p.m. Once again, the authorities are shutting down key transport hubs in an attempt to keep crowd sizes in check. The government says services will resume "when the situation becomes normal."
1:47 p.m. Mary Lawlor, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights defenders, expresses "alarm" over the situation in Thailand.
11:09 a.m. Activist group FreeYouth issues an online call for fresh protests across Bangkok starting at 3 p.m. today. After a sweeping shutdown of public transportation on Saturday failed to deter thousands of people from packing the streets, how will the authorities respond this time?
1:10 a.m. An online petition calling on Germany to declare Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn a persona non grata has reached nearly 140,000 signatures out of a goal of 150,000, according to Change.org.
The petition -- posted in Thai, English and German -- is addressed to Chancellor Angela Merkel, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and senior German lawmakers. It says the king and his entourage have "traveled between Thailand and Germany at their own leisure, disregarding any regulations in place both [countries] only for the sake of their own convenience."
Asked recently by a member of parliament how Berlin would respond to the king engaging in domestic politics from German soil, Maas said: "We would always clearly counteract efforts by guests in our country to conduct affairs of state from our country."
Thailand has blocked access to Change.org in response to the petition, the BBC has reported.
0:53 a.m. Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong once again draws a parallel between the Thai protests and last year's demonstrations in the Chinese city.
Saturday, Oct. 17
8:00 p.m. Although participants have been saying there are no leaders and that "everyone is a leader," announcements can be heard telling people to leave and gather again tomorrow. Stay tuned on social media, they say. Groups of demonstrators are heeding the call at several places, including Lat Phrao intersection, which appears to have been the site of tonight's biggest rally. It sounds like more protests and transport disruptions are in store.
7:50 p.m. Former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose government was replaced by a junta led by current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha in 2014, speaks out with a Twitter message directed squarely at him.
She asks whether Prayuth remembers when protesters demanded her resignation six years ago. Yingluck writes that back then, Prayuth had asked her a question: "Whether I can continue my government?"
"Today," she says, "the same incident has happened to you, when more than 100,000 students and the Thai people demand you resign. ... I hope you can recall what you asked me and I hope you would decide immediate to choose the strategy to bring the country to peace and prosperity."
7:25 p.m. Social media posts suggest some of the protests are beginning to disperse peacefully, answering rally organizers' call to head home by 8 p.m.
6:50 p.m. Like Joshua Wong, fellow Hong Kong activist Nathan Law also tweeted earlier this evening in support of the Thai protesters. Meanwhile, big crowds are still out on the streets of Bangkok.
5:02 p.m. Protest organizers call on participants to wrap it all up by 8 p.m., urging them to rest and fight another day. But will the authorities let the rallies run their course or step in like they did last night?
"We will fight together until the dark powers are over," activist group Free Youth tweets.
4:50 p.m. Another day, another sizable crowd marching through Bangkok.
4:30 p.m. The lack of public transportation certainly isn't stopping everyone. Here are a couple of early pictures from today's rallies.
Protesters show the three-finger salute at Udomsuk station in Bangkok on Oct. 17. (Reuters)
An activist covered in blue paint -- possibly symbolizing the blue-colored water police fired on demonstrators yesterday. (Reuters)
3:45 p.m. Rally organizers have named not one but at least three main target locations for protests. They are:
1) Lat Phrao intersection, which is close to the CentralPlaza Ladprao shopping center, the Energy Ministry and state oil and gas company PTT's headquarters.
2) Wong Wian Yai, a large traffic circle in Thonburi, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, where a statue of King Taksin is situated.
3) Udomsuk intersection in the west of the city, a major gateway to other cities like Chonburi, Rayong as well as Pattaya; the intersection is also close to a commercial area.
Road and public transport closures could make it difficult for many would-be protesters to reach these areas, but they could also make their way through the city's web of smaller streets.
3:03 p.m. Transportation around Bangkok is severely disrupted. The BTS SkyTrain service, a key part of the city's transit network, has just tweeted that all its stations will be closed for the rest of today.
11:59 a.m. "Today, the rally will be held at 16:00, place not yet" set, the pro-democracy group People's Party 2020 says in a statement.
"After the crackdown on 16 October, we learned that government and military are an enemy to people," the statement reads. Urging protesters to return, the group says everyone is a leader and asks people "to prepare your body and mind to be ready for the rally today, and be ready to handle ... the crackdown that may be done again."
0:38 a.m. Joshua Wong, the Hong Kong activist, expresses solidarity with Thailand's pro-democracy movement. "People should not be afraid of their governments," he tweets. "Only governments should be afraid of their people."
Friday, Oct. 16 (Bangkok time)
10:48 p.m. "I got caught and I'm going to the Police Station," activist Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree, also known as Ford, tweets.
9:40 p.m. State television broadcasts a rare video of King Maha Vajiralongkorn speaking directly to a group of local loyalists during an audience at Sakon Nakhon Rajabhat University in northeastern Thailand on Thursday. "I think now you understand that the nation needs people who love the nation and the institution" of the monarchy, the king tells them. "All the experiences you've had and all the work you've done can be beneficial. You can teach the new generation about the experiences you've had. It will be extremely useful."
8:00 p.m. Some protesters remain at the Pathumwan intersection, but the demonstration leaders announce an end to tonight's rally.
7:40 p.m. Some protesters have fled, while others are sticking around as police push them back. They're moving toward Chulalongkorn University.
7:10 p.m. Police are using water cannons to try to break up the demonstration.
7:00 p.m. Riot police have been moving in on Pathumwan. The situation is tense.
6:00 p.m. The crowd at Pathumwan has swelled, regardless of the rain.
Like Ratchaprasong, the original protest destination, the Pathumwan area is home to large shopping centers. It is also close to the Sra Pathum Palace, the residence of Princess Sirindhorn, the king's sister -- though there is no indication that the protesters are targeting it.
5:10 p.m. The rally organizers are urging people to gather at a different location than originally planned. They have suggested converging on the Pathumwan intersection, about 1 km west of Ratchaprasong. Pathumwan is another big crossing in Bangkok's commercial heart, but lies outside the area sealed by police.
4:05 p.m. Bangkok's BTS Skytrain service posts on Facebook that trains will not be stopping at its Chit Lom and Ratchadamri stations, near the Ratchaprasong intersection where protesters are planning to converge again in less than an hour. Skipping the stations would conform to a police order to stop traffic through the area.
News reports suggest there is a heavy police presence in the area as rain continues to fall.
3:15 p.m. It's a wet, dreary day in Bangkok. Rain started falling around 2 p.m. Showers tend to last an hour or two in this tropical country, but if the weather doesn't clear up, it could discourage some of the more casual protesters from attending this evening's rally.
2:30 p.m. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has told reporters he will not resign, rejecting one of the protesters' demands. He defends the emergency declaration, which was officially approved during a special cabinet meeting in the morning -- hours after demonstrators ignored it.
"It is a necessary procedure given the occurrence of unprecedented violent situations," Prayuth says. The decree is to remain in effect for 30 days.
The prime minister also says a curfew is possible under the "serious emergency" situation. When asked if he would consider introducing martial law, he says it is a possibility if things get really out of hand, but stresses: "We have not reached that point. There is no need for that right now."
12:20 p.m. Six opposition parties, led by the Pheu Thai Party, have issued a joint statement against the government's response to the protests. They say there was "no legitimate reason" to issue the emergency decree banning large gatherings. The law, they argue, is being used "as a political tool in limiting the expression of political opinions."
The statement lists several demands for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and government officials. It calls on them to lift the emergency, guarantee free expression, avoid using the military and refrain from using force. It also urges demonstrators not to resort to violence, and requests a special session of parliament to address "various problems and issues."
8:15 a.m. After a dramatic night that saw thousands stream into central Bangkok's Ratchaprasong intersection, protest organizers are calling for another rally starting at 5 p.m. today. Like yesterday's demonstration, this would defy an emergency ban on gatherings of five or more people.
While we wait to see how today unfolds, here are some scenes from last night.
A man speaks to the growing crowd of protesters at Bangkok's Ratchaprasong intersection, known for its glitzy shopping malls. (Reuters)
Police officers gather to respond to the protest, where demonstrators demanded that the government resign and release the movement's detained leaders. (Reuters)
Thousands of demonstrators make the three-finger gesture that has become a trademark of the protests. (Getty Images)
A monk receives an offering from a protester on the street. (Getty Images)
A man shows the three-finger salute, borrowed from "The Hunger Games" franchise of books and films. (Reuters)
4:30 a.m. Human Rights Watch says in a statement that the Thai government's declaration of a state of emergency in Bangkok is "a pretext for a crackdown on peaceful demonstrations."
Noting that the police have arrested at least 22 activists in front of Bangkok's Government House, Brad Adams, the group's Asia director, wrote: "The Emergency Decree provides the Thai government with unchecked powers to suppress fundamental freedoms and ensures zero accountability for officials. Thai authorities should not repress peaceful protests with draconian laws that violate freedom of speech and other civil liberties."
"The Thai government has created its own human rights crisis," Adams wrote. "Criminalizing peaceful protests and calls for political reform is a hallmark of authoritarian rule."
Thursday, Oct. 15
11:00 p.m. The Bangkok Post reports that Thai courts have approved arrest warrants for two activists believed to have been among the protesters when the royal motorcade carrying Queen Suthida and Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti passed on Phitsanulok Road on Wednesday afternoon. The warrants are for serious charges under Section 110 of the criminal code, but what the activists had allegedly done was not revealed.
Under Section 110, whoever commits an act of violence against the liberty of the queen shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or of 16 to 20 years.
10:00 p.m. Organizers decide to call it a day while public transportation is still running to take protesters home. Whether fired-up demonstrators will simply leave remains uncertain.
8:30 p.m. The demonstrators have broken into a skywalk that had been sealed off by the police before the rally. They forced their way in around 7 p.m., tearing down a metal lattice in the process. The skywalk, which connects Siam and Chidlom stations on Bangkok's BTS Skytrain line, is now occupied by hundreds of people.
7:00 p.m. The CentralWorld mall, despite an earlier statement that it would stay open until 10 p.m. as usual, opted to close an hour ago, citing congestion relief. Big C Supercenter, a supermarket in the area, was closed before 6 p.m.
6:30 p.m. A couple of protesters among the thousands share their thoughts.
"We have been suppressed for long. We want an equal society," says a 26-year-old woman. "Success may not come today. But it is another starting point. We will grow continuously from here."
Another young woman, aged 17, says she feels politics is a "matter for everyone."
"Thai democracy right now is not the real one."
6:00 p.m. Panupong Jadnok, a 24-year-old social activist and one of the key protest leaders who is still free, vows that people will stay through the night, even as police monitor the crowd closely.
"We have occupied this Ratchaprasong area," he says. "I ask all of you who are still fighting for democracy to come and join us tonight."
"Free our friends," protesters shout in unison, demanding police release those who were arrested this morning near Government House.
5:45 p.m. The protest is blocking all traffic through Ratchaprasong intersection. The BTS Sky Train -- a key transport artery -- is working but is reportedly bypassing some nearby stations.
Demonstrators have set up a mobile stage -- basically a big truck with an amplifier -- at the center of the intersection, surrounded by major shopping malls and the luxury Grand Hyatt Erawan hotel. For safety, stores and businesses in the area have allowed employees to go home earlier than expected.
5:25 p.m. The crowd converging on Ratchaprasong intersection has swelled to an estimated few thousand people, as of 5 p.m.
4:45 p.m. Local media reports say police have closed roads leading to Ratchaprasong. A Reuters report estimates the crowd at "hundreds" so far, with chants demanding the release of demonstrators and key movement leaders who were arrested earlier in the day. Reuters describes one protester tying a white bow on the wrist of a policemen, saying, "One day we will stand side by side when Thailand is better."
4:00 p.m. At least some protesters turn up in defiance of the emergency degree as the clock strikes 4 p.m. -- the planned start time for a demonstration in Bangkok's commercial core. Images posted online show police clearing people out of a skywalk. Now a crowd is beginning to swell on the street near Ratchaprasong intersection. It remains difficult to say how much traction this will gain.
3:05 p.m. The outlook for this afternoon's planned protest remains unclear. But a Thai professor tells Nikkei Asia that he does not expect the protesters will back down.
"They will try many methods to challenge the [emergency] declaration," the professor says, "in order to show the international community that this government is not capable of governing the country anymore."
2:25 p.m. Human rights group Amnesty International expresses concern.
"This vague, drastic order will lead to more people unfairly arrested, detained and prosecuted," Ming Yu Hah, deputy regional director for campaigns, says of the emergency decree in a news release. "With further public assemblies expected to happen today, we urge the Thai authorities to engage in constructive dialogue with the protesters."
Ming calls the reaction to the demonstrations "completely unjustified" since they were "overwhelmingly peaceful."
2:00 p.m. "I know they are going to arrest me someday, but we are prepared for that moment," student leader Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul told Nikkei Asia in an interview two months ago. The third-year undergraduate was one of the protest leaders detained earlier today.
1:35 p.m. The Philippine Embassy in Thailand warns Filipinos in the country to avoid crowded areas and follow authorities' instructions, according to local media reports.
1:30 p.m. Reuters reports that the police and army intend to use checkpoints to stop protesters from gathering.
1:10 p.m. CentralWorld, one of the largest malls in Bangkok and situated on the northwest corner of the Ratchaprasong intersection, has installed fences around its periphery to deter protesters from entering. A mall representative tells Nikkei Asia that the plan is to stay open for the regular operating hours, until 10 p.m.
Gaysorn, another mall on the northeast corner, has also set up fencing. Students at a nearby school have been told to go home early to avoid a possible showdown.
12:05 p.m. So far, it appears to be business as usual in Bangkok's Ratchaprasong area, picked as the gathering point for a possible rally this afternoon. There have been no announcements by major malls of plans to close early, as of noon. Still, the police request to avoid the area later today could affect the flow of shoppers.
12:00 p.m. For an in-depth look at what is motivating young Thais to take to the streets, read our Big Story from earlier this year. "After years of silence, the young generations have reached a threshold, a trigger point," one expert told Nikkei Asia.
11:40 a.m. Meanwhile, diplomacy continues. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrives at the Government House in a black sedan for talks with Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. Reuters says they are expected to discuss cooperation on recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.
11:10 a.m. Bangkok's deputy police chief, Piya Tawichai, says about 2,000 officers will be dispatched from noon to the vicinity of Ratchaprasong intersection, in case demonstrators follow through on plans for another rally. The public is advised to avoid the area -- the commercial heart of the city -- from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Piya also confirms 20 demonstrators were arrested as of 7:30 a.m., including three key leaders. This does not include the arrest of Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, another movement leader, who was taken into custody later in the morning.
10:15 a.m. Thailand's benchmark SET index falls as much as 1% in early trading, suggesting at least some investor unease over what the government is now calling the "serious emergency situation."
9:40 a.m. A number of key protest leaders have been arrested, including one who posted a video clip encouraging people to continue with a protest in another part of Bangkok this afternoon.
In light of the emergency decree, police would likely turn out in force for this. Stay tuned.
6:47 a.m. Thai riot police clear thousands of protesters from outside the prime minister's office, according to Reuters.
6:14 a.m. Here is a preliminary translation of the government's announcement signed by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha:
"Many people have instigated and mobilized illegal public gatherings in Bangkok with many ways and channels that caused chaos and disorder. There was conduct that affected the royal motorcade, and there was reason to believe there was violent conduct that affected state security, safety in life or assets of the people and state. This was not a peaceful gathering endorsed by the constitution. It also directly affects the control of COVID-19, which directly affects the vulnerable economy of the nation. It is very important to have urgent measures to fix this and halt this conduct effectively so the law is respected and the public is in order. Therefore, following Section 5 and Section 11 of the emergency decree, the prime minister has declared a state of severe emergency on Oct. 15 from 4 a.m. onward."
6:08 a.m. The government orders a ban on gatherings of five or more people in Bangkok, according to an official document accompanying the emergency decree.
Under measures that took effect from 4 a.m. local time, authorities have the power to ban people from entering any area they designate.
It also bars the "publication of news, other media, and electronic information that contains messages that could create fear or intentionally distort information, creating misunderstanding that will affect national security or peace and order."
5:30 a.m. Thai state television announces that the government has issued an emergency decree, citing a need to maintain peace and order.
Protesters have called for the ouster of junta leader-turned-Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as well as a new constitution. They have also called for reforms to the monarchy of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
A royal motorcade carrying Queen Suthida had earlier encountered demonstrators, who flashed three-finger salutes. She smiled and waved back. The king's motorcade later passed along the road without incident on his way to a ceremony at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha near the Grand Palace.
State television said: "As it appears that many groups of people have invited and incited illegal public assemblies in Bangkok ... acted to affect the royal motorcade and committed severe actions that affected national security ... it is extremely necessary to introduce an urgent measure to end this situation effectively and promptly to maintain peace and order," according to Reuters.