How it happened: Bangkok anti-government protests
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How it happened: Bangkok anti-government protests

Despite tensions and the exchange of tear gas and other missiles between protesters to peace, Saturday’s rally in Bangkok wound up earlier than expected. We followed all the major developments of the day through tweets, video, images and text (all times local Bangkok time):


8pm: Analysis by Saksith Saiyasombut

The Pitak Siam rally ended prematurely at 5.20pm, when the group leader General Boonlert Kaewprasit went on stage and called it off, stating not to risk any more lives and to conserve energy for future actions.

But what could have been the real reason for the complete cancellation is that there have not been simply enough people. The group has earlier stated to carry on when there are more than 50,000 anti-government protesters – a highly optimistic estimation that has fallen short during the afternoon, as the highest realistic estimation was about at 30,000 people, whereas police didn’t even more than 20,000.

That a slap in the face for the Pitsak Siam group, which has failed to garner momentum and enough to support to topple the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and to purge the country clean of the influence of her brother and exiled former prime minister Thaksin.

While the rally itself was peaceful and festive, the clashes at the edge of the rally site with the police begs the question why they have happened in the first place, as one group of protesters outside the rally site wanted to force their way through a police barricade, despite other designated entryways available.

All eyes are now on the censure debate against the Yingluck government starting tomorrow, that will climax in a no-confidence vote in parliament later this week. And here is another question of the purpose of today’s rally: the government coalition should have enough seats to survive the no confidence vote and a storm on parliament or other government buildings by the Pitak Siam would have only delayed it.

In the end, what we’re left with is an anti-government, nationalistic group that is similar to it’s yellow and multicolored shirted counterparts, but doesn’t have the same draw as the others and it will have to work much harder now to gain enough popular support to throw this government out.


7pm: General Boonlert throws the towel:

6pm: Bangkok protest ends. Protesters told to go home:



4.15pm: AP summarizes the major developments so far. The full report is here:

Protesters calling for Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down rallied in the heart of Bangkok on Saturday, clashing with police in the first major demonstration against the government since it came to power last year. Although the rally site itself was peaceful, protesters on a nearby street tried and failed to break through a concrete police barricade, at one point ramming a truck into it. Both demonstrators and riot police lobbed tear gas canisters at each other. Police spokesman Maj. Gen. Piya Utayo said five officers were injured in the skirmishes, two of them seriously. He said 130 demonstrators were detained, some of them carrying knives and bullets.


3.26pm: An ominous tweet and pic from the Guardian’s Kate Hodal:

3.10pm: Saksith speaks to Seh Ai. Looks like we could be in for the long haul.




2.27pm: For a different take on today’s events, check out Bangkok Pundit’s live blog. BP’s take: “Clashes are likely to continue. It seems for now that the police are not backing down.”


1.58pm: Reports coming through of more teargas fired as protesters and police clash again.

1.30pm: Estimates but the number of protesters at anywhere between 20,000 and 50,000. Well below the 70,000 expected by organizers Pitak Siam.


12.05pm: The protesters have counter measures of their own:



Here, protesters are seen cutting through barbwire to clash with police earlier. The police responded with teargas. h/t @thomasfatcat & @thai_talk for this vid:

From AP:

The rally, which was expected to draw tens of thousands of protesters, was mostly peaceful in its early stages. Police, however, fired tear gas to disperse between 50 to 100 people who tried to break through a line of concrete barricades erected on a street near the protest site.


Anti-government protesters, calling for Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down, kicks away tear gas canister fired by police in Bangkok Saturday. Pic: AP.

This video from local television has footage of clashes between police and protesters: