Scuffles broke out with police as thousands of Thai pro-democracy protesters demonstrated Thursday in the center of Bangkok, in defiance of a state of emergency declared by the government earlier in the day.
READ MORE: Thousands of demonstrators have defied a state of emergency the Thai prime minister declared in response to massive protests demanding his resignation and reform of the country’s constitutional monarchy.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha signed the decree late Wednesday night after tens of thousands of protesters marched on his office at Government House in Bangkok hours earlier, vowing not to leave until he agreed to step down. Shortly after the emergency was declared, police dispersed the crowd and arrested more than 20 people who refused to leave, including protest leaders Arnon Nampha and Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak.
In an extraordinary display of rebellion Wednesday, protesters were pushed back by police as they shouted at a motorcade carrying King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida as it drove past the crowd and held up a three-fingered salute, a symbol of defiance borrowed from the popular U.S. Hunger Games books and film trilogy.
Despite warnings not to proceed with a planned demonstration in Bangkok on Thursday, as many as 1,000 demonstrators gathered in the city’s shopping district. The crowd blocked a major intersection, where one of the leaders had been arrested, chanting slogans calling for the prime minister’s resignation.
“Like dogs cornered, we are fighting ‘til our deaths,” protest leader Panupong “Mike Rayong” Jadnok told a cheering crowd. “We won’t go anywhere.”
The prime minister’s decree prohibits political gatherings of five or more people and the dissemination of news and online information that the government believes could threaten national security.