Protesters pledge to escalate rallies

Protesters pledge to escalate rallies

Hold the line: Anti-riot police covered in paint thrown by protesters near the Royal Palace. Police had cordoned off areas near the palace amid a demonstration by the Ratsadorn group calling for the release of four protest leaders and the amending of the lese majeste law.
Hold the line: Anti-riot police covered in paint thrown by protesters near the Royal Palace. Police had cordoned off areas near the palace amid a demonstration by the Ratsadorn group calling for the release of four protest leaders and the amending of the lese majeste law.

Anti-government protesters are planning to hold a mass rally on Feb 20 to demand the release of their four leaders. They also vowed to escalate rallies unless the leaders are released.

Feb 20 is also the day parliament is scheduled to vote after the censure debate, which will focus on government performance. The four Ratsadorn (People's Movement) leaders -- Parit Chiwarak, Arnon Nampa, Patiwat Saraiyaem and Somyot Prueksakasemsuk -- have been detained in prison after a court denied them bail on Feb 9. The court said it was worried they would repeat the offence if freed.

They were charged with violating Section 112 of the Criminal Code (the lese majeste law) and sedition over rallies held on Sept 19 and 20.

Atthapol Buapat, aka Kru Yai Khon Kaen Por Gun Tee, a key protester, announced the rally plan yesterday after marching with others from the Democracy Monument to the Bangkok City Pillar Shrine to pay homage and seek blessings for the demonstration ahead.

Mr Atthapol and three others entered the shrine, while some protesters outside threw water bottles and smoke bombs at police, saying the lights from a nearby crowd control truck were too intense.

While gathering at the monument in the afternoon, the protesters removed decorative trees at the monument and wrapped the structure with a red cloth.

After 8pm, the protest leaders called off the rally.

However, a large number of protesters remained and explosive sounds were heard. Police announced the rally was dispersed by 9.30pm. The officers arrested at least six demonstrators as of 9pm.

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