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Protesters blocked by containers and razor wire brave downpour

A group of anti-government protesters ended a rally in the central business district of the capital on Saturday evening after putting up a banner in the Pratunam area.

The protest, organised by the Free Youth movement under the leaderless Redem (Restore Democracy) banner, earlier planned to meet at the Swiss embassy on Witthayu Road at 4pm.

According to the Free Youth Facebook page, the demonstrators had three demands — limiting the power of the institution since “no institution can be reformed without first reforming the monarchy”; freeing democracy by removing the military from politics; and building a universal welfare state, including free mRNA vaccines.

But police, having learned about their plans from Facebook, put up stacks of containers blocking the road.

They reportedly feared inappropriate activities at the nearby King Rama VI Monument, which they surrounded with razor wire.

At 4.55pm, they marched to the Phloenchit intersection and headed to the Ratchaprasong intersection, trying to find a way to get to the embassy.

Blocked there by more barbed wire and containers, they took turns giving speeches near the police headquarters.

After a while, they moved on past CentralWorld and headed to the Pratunam area amid heavy rain. Along the way, they carried banners stating their demands.

They ended the rally after putting up a banner on the Pratunam flyover reading “Reform of Monarchy” in Thai and English. The banner was put up at 6.20pm and police removed it 20 minutes later.

According to Bangkok police, apart from the Free Youth group, two more anti-government groups planned rallies on Saturday evening.

They are the R Breed group led by Thanadet “Mon” Srisongkhram, which arranged to go to Parliament, and Thalu Gas, the youth group that frequently clashes with riot police, in Din Daeng.

Pol Maj Gen Piya Tavichai said that since protests resumed in July, 660 suspects have been identified, 403 of whom have been arrested in 176 cases.

He repeated warnings that assembling in areas designated as dark red zones is illegal and violates the curfew still in place for coronavirus control.

Some of those who have rallied at Din Daeng also face charges of unrest, arson and property damage.

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