On September 19, protest leaders staged the largest political demonstration Thailand has seen since the military took power in 2014. Depending on the estimate, anywhere from 30,000 up to 100,000 people attended the two-day rally adjacent to the Grand Palace. A series of Bangkok-cantered and rural demonstrations taking place across the country over the past eight weeks helped to bring people to Sanam Luang, a public park in central Bangkok, over the weekend.
Despite the heavy rain forecasted, protesters began arriving around 12 p.m. on Saturday with numbers swelling throughout the afternoon and peaking in the evening hours. Some attendees decided to stay overnight in a show of support and in order to attend events the following day.
In their messages, protesters continued to push what have been largely consistent demands: institutional reform, the resignation of the current government, a rewrite of the constitution, and an end to the harassment of government critics.
On Sunday morning protest leaders began by breaking ground in the public park to install a plaque replacing a missing plate that had commemorated the 1932 revolution. Protesters then continued to move toward the Grand Palace to deliver a petition seeking institutional reform to the Privy Council. They were stopped by police at barricades and roadblocks of parked city buses. Protest leader Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul hand-delivered a petition to a leading police official who promised to forward it on to the Privy Council, marking the end of the weekend’s demonstration.
In their farewell to supporters, leaders announced a call for a general strike on October 14, the anniversary of the 1973 student uprising.
Cory Wright is a photographer/videographer currently based in southeast Asia. His work includes stories relating to conflict, migration, and the wider effects of incarceration and imprisonment. His website is www.coryjwright.com and his Instagram is @coryjwright