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Turbulent Thailand

Thailand latest: ultraroyalists protest in front of US embassy

Opposition lawmaker demands Prayuth resign as he slits own arm with knife

A supporter of the Thai monarchy displays images of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Queen Suthida and late King Bhumibol Adulyadej during a rally at Lumphini park in central Bangkok on Oct. 27.   © AP

Thailand's government faces a persistent protest movement that is bringing thousands into the streets to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his cabinet, constitutional changes drafted by representatives of the people, and reform of the monarchy under the constitution.

For all our coverage, visit our Turbulent Thailand page.

Here are the latest developments:

Tuesday, Oct. 27 (Bangkok time)

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 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 issued 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.

Royalists holding portraits of King Maha Vajiralongkorn aloft rallied outside the German embassy in central Bangkok at 2 p.m. ahead of pro-democracy student-led march due to arrive there later in the afternoon. The Thai king is almost permanently resident in the European country, which has expressed official disquiet at Thai affairs of state being conducted remotely from its territory.     © AP

3:11 p.m. The parliament reconvened 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.

Pro-democracy protesters make their trademark three-finger salute in Bangkok on Oct. 25.   © Reuters

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.

Supporters bow before King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet royalists as they leave a religious ceremony to commemorate at the Grand Palace in Bangkok on Oct. 23.   © Reuters
King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet supporters on Oct. 23. The scene was markedly different from the one in which jeering protesters crowded a royal motorcade carrying the queen on Oct. 14.   © Reuters
A smiling Thai Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana snapped photos of the crowd on Oct. 23 with what appeared to be German-made Leica. The king reportedly spends much of his time in Germany.   © Reuters

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.

Thai protest leader Patsaravalee "Mind" Tanakitvibulpon celebrates her release on bail in Bangkok on Oct. 22.   © Reuters

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.

Patsaravalee "Mind" Tanakitvibulpon takes part in the Oct. 21 march to Government House, before she was taken into custody.   © Reuters

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.

Protestor armed with umbrella challenges barbed wire barricade.   © Getty Images
Thai protestors line up on the march to Government House.   © Getty Images
Thai protestors dismantle barricades as the march toward Government House.   © Getty Images

Wednesday, Oct. 21

10:18 p.m. Scenes from the march to Government House.

 A pro-democracy activist dressed as a clown gestures during their march to the Government House, prime minister's office during a protest march in Bangkok, Thailand.   © AP
Pro-democracy activists protest in front of Government House, the prime minister's offices in Bangkok.   © AP
Pro-democracy activists remove barbed wires and barricades during their march to the Government House, prime minister's office during a protest march in Bangkok, Thailand,    © AP
Thousands of protesters push toward Government House in Bangkok on Oct. 21.   © Reuters

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.

A police barricade with barbed wire blocks access to the prime minister's office in Bangkok.   © Reuters

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.

Protesters reach a line of police as they move toward Government House in Bangkok on Oct. 21.   © Reuters

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.

Pro-democracy activists flash three-fingered salutes while listening to the national anthem outside Siam Paragon, one of the largest shopping malls, in Bangkok on Oct. 20.   © AP
Pro-democracy activists gather in Central Pinklao, suburbs of Bangkok, on Oct. 20. Thailand's Cabinet on Tuesday approved a request to recall Parliament for a special session to deal with the political pressures from ongoing anti-government protests.   © AP
Pro-democracy protesters make a three-finger salute at 6:00 p.m., at the time the national anthem is usually played in all public transport stations in Bangkok on Oct. 20.   © Reuters

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.

A young pro-democracy activist displays a message during a demonstration at Kaset intersection, suburbs of Bangkok on Oct. 19. Thai authorities worked Monday to stem a growing tide of protests calling for the prime minister to resign by threatening to censor news coverage, raiding a publishing house and attempting to block the Telegram messaging app used by demonstrators.   © AP

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.

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.

Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong places a sign in support of protesters in Thailand outside the country's consulate in the city.   © Reuters

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,, 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.

Pro-democracy protesters wave the Thai national flag as others shine their mobile phone lights during an anti-government protest in Bangkok on Oct. 18.   © AP
Pro-democracy protest front liners flash three-fingered salute during a protest rally at Ashok intersection in Bangkok on Oct. 18.   © AP
Pro-democracy protesters cross their fingers during an anti-government protest in Bangkok on Oct. 18.   © Reuters

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.

Pro-democracy demonstrators light up the night with their cellphones in Bangkok on Oct. 18.   © Reuters

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.

Pro-democracy protesters surround Bangkok's Victory Monument on Oct. 18.   © Reuters

The crowd at a secondary site, Asoke, is also large.

The crowd at Asoke junction, one of the key protest sites in Bangkok on Oct. 18.   © Reuters

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.

Demonstrators hold posters of protest leaders who have been arrested during a rally in Bangkok on Oct. 18.   © Reuters

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

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 in response to the petition, the BBC has reported.

Pro-democracy protesters at one of several rallies in Bangkok on Oct. 17: Organizers have called on people to rest up and return.   © Reuters

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.

Protesters fill up a street in Bangkok on Oct. 17.   © Reuters

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."

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn greets royalist supporters who gathered outside the Grand Palace to mark the fourth anniversary of late King Bhumibol Adulyadej's death, in Bangkok on Oct. 13.   © Reuters

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.

Protesters were pushed back by riot police using shields and water cannons during the latest peaceful demonstration in Bangkok on the evening of Oct. 16.   © Reuters

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.

Rain is falling in Bangkok. Will it affect today's protest turnout? (Photo by Masayuki Yuda)

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.

Thousands of protesters fill the streets and walkways of Bangkok's core commercial district on Oct. 15.   © Reuters

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.

Pro-democracy protesters show the three-finger salute as they gather in Bangkok on Oct. 15, demanding the government resign and release detained movement leaders.   © Reuters

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.

CentralWorld, one of the largest malls in Bangkok, has set up fencing ahead of a possible rally in the afternoon of Oct. 15. (Photo by Marimi Kishimoto)

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.

A message reading "Road for the People" is scrawled on Bangkok's Ratchadamnoen Road -- Road for the Royals -- on Oct. 15.   © Reuters

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.

A cleaner sweeps up trash after the protest in Bangkok in the early hours of Oct. 15.   © Reuters

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."

Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn, left, and Queen Suthida in a motorcade driving toward the Grand Palace in Bangkok.   © Reuters

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."

Pro-democracy demonstrators flash the three-finger salute at a protest against the Thai government.   © Reuters

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.

Pro-democracy demonstrators sit on the street outside the Government House in Bangkok at a mass protest on the 47th anniversary of the 1973 student uprising.   © Reuters

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