Protesters converged outside a key military barracks on Sunday, the latest in a series of anti-government demonstrations, and were faced with a strong comtingent of police blocking the entrance to the compound.
Thousands of demonstrators marched from Wat Phra Si Mahathat BTS station to the 11th Infantry Regiment, about one kilometre away, on Phayon Yothin Road on Sunday afternoon.
The 11th Infantry Regiment was chosen as a protest venue because of its symbolic value — in 2019, it was transferred from the army to come under the direct control of His Majesty the King.
The 205-rai area inside the barracks is a training centre for volunteers initiated by the King.
Police line up in front of barbed wire outside the 11th Infantry Regiment on Phahon Yothin Road in Bangkok on Sunday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
The United Front for Thammasat and Demonstration, one of the allied groups under the People’s Movement umbrella, said the military unit was targeted because it had played a key role in past coups.
“We have finally reached the 11th Infantry Regiment,” protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak announced. The unit should side with the protesters to protect the people, he added.
During the rally, the protesters demanded reform of the armed fores and the monarchy. They have called for the ouster of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the rewriting of a new charter to replace the present constitution, which they say was crafted by the coup makers.
Police have warned them they will face fierce resistance if they try to enter the compound, but rally leaders said they would remain outside. Mr Parit asked the protesters not to dismantle the coils of barbed wire and try to break through the police barricade to enter the barracks.