Protesters arrive early on royal route

Protesters arrive early on royal route

Some demonstrators set up tents occupying one side of Ratchadamnoen Avenue in Bangkok on Tuesday, spreading a banner calling for the repeal of Section 112 of the Criminal Code that protects the royal institution. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Some demonstrators set up tents occupying one side of Ratchadamnoen Avenue in Bangkok on Tuesday, spreading a banner calling for the repeal of Section 112 of the Criminal Code that protects the royal institution. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)

A group of pro-democracy demonstrators arrived early on Ratchadamnoen Avenue on Tuesday despite police's request that they leave as they were preparing for His Majesty the King’s motorcade the next day.

The Khana Ratsadon group, an alliance of pro-democracy student and people networks, planned a major rally at the Democracy Monument on Wednesday, the 47th anniversary of 1973 popular rising which ended in a crackdown and 77 deaths. 

Their three demands are Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha must leave as prime minister, an extraordinary parliamentary meeting must be called to accept a constitution-amendment bill from the people, and the monarchy must be reformed to be under the constitution. 

On Tuesday, about 30 people from the group, led by Jatupat "Pai Daodin" Boonpatararaksa, set up tents in front of a McDonald’s restaurant close to the Democracy Monument and Satriwithaya School.

They ignored police’s request to remove them but allowed police to check their materials and belongings to ensure safety.

Both sides communicated through loudspeakers. Sitting on the roof of a pickup truck, Mr Jatupat claimed they had to set up the tents ahead of Wednesday.

It was earlier reported that His Majesty the King would go to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha on Wednesday for the graduation ceremony for Pali scholars.

The planned rally has drawn reaction from the conservative wing since Tuesday. Royalist activists, including Suthep Thaugsuban and Dr Rianthong Naenna, announced on social media on Tuesday that they would wear yellow and wait for the royal motorcade on Wednesday evening. Yellow was the Thai traditional birthday colour of His Majesty the King.

National police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk said police would assure that people would be able to pay their respects to His Majesty en route.

On an earlier report that the demonstrators would march to Government House on Wednesday, the police chief said the law prohibited demonstrators from approaching Government House for at least 50 metres and not stay overnight there.

Pol Col Wacharawee Thammasema, a Special Branch police commander who supervised the vicinity of Government House, said police asked demonstrators not to use Ratchadamnoen Avenue, which was the route of the royal motorcade.

They would try to convince demonstrators to use nearby Nakhon Sawan Road instead, he said.

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