Police in Bangkok prepare for car rally

BANGKOK: The Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) will dispatch at least 5,700 officers to the capital during today’s anti-government rally (Aug 7) to ensure public order and safety.

Motorcycles join other vehicles at the Democracy Monument during a rally against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha last Sunday. Photo: Apichit Jinakul

Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawichai, deputy commissioner and spokesman for the MPB, said the office had called 35 companies with 150 police officers on standby for the demonstration, with 14 checkpoints set up around the protest site.

He said three protest groups had announced they would attend the rally.

The Free Youth group will gather at the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue before marching to the Grand Palace.

The Archeewa Pithak Prachachon Pua Prachathipatai (Vocational Democracy Students) will hold an automobile rally at Phan Fa Lilat Bridge and move to the government building.

The Daeng Kao Na 63 (Progressive Red) will converge in their respective provinces before moving to the Democracy Monument.

Pol Maj Gen Piya said intelligence reports indicate a possible violent confrontation as some protesters are known to cause riot.

Citing the national police chief, the MPB deputy commissioner said that protest leaders or activists with pending arrest warrants are being arrested.

“If there are attempts to break into or set fire to property, or use gasoline bombs, the police are urged to intervene to keep the situation from spiraling out of control. Those facing arrest warrants will be taken into custody, ”he said.

Pol Maj Gen Jirasan Kaewsaengek, MPB’s deputy traffic commissioner, yesterday urged motorists to avoid all routes near the Democracy Monument, Sanam Luang and the government building. At least 13 routes are likely to be affected, he said.

Meanwhile, a Samut Prakan protest group led by former Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hema is widely expected to retire from today’s demonstration.

Mr Worachai, also a core member of the red-shirted United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, announced earlier this week that a Samut Prakan automobile would join the rally to demand the removal of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

He said yesterday that the group was planning to attend the “Automob” rally by former red shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar, but was just told that Mr. Nattawut would not attend today’s protests.

“If there’s just one Samut Prakan automobile rally, it won’t be strong. We want automobile rallies from several places to take place at the same time as a show of power, ”said Worachai.

Preeda Kongpaen, Asst Prof. Suchart Setthamalinee, Sayamol Kraiyoonwong and Wasan Paileeklee, four members of the National Human Rights Commission, will oversee today’s demonstrations, according to an NHRC.

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