Thai protest leaders put a stop to demonstrations held on Friday night, Oct. 16 in Bangkok after riot police fired stinging liquid from water cannons, Reuters reported.
Most violent development in 3 months of protests
The peaceful rallies, attended by thousands of mostly young protesters, were held for a second day despite a ban on gatherings of five or more people that was announced by the nation's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.
The deployment of water cannons was the first time in the three months of peaceful rallies against Prayuth and the Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn that police had used the heaviest force yet to suppress the crowds.
Protesters and riot police clashed during the night.
Monk tried to deter police
A monk at the scene was captured on camera trying to get the police to stop firing the water cannon at the unarmed crowd.
Protesters on the overhead bridge also dropped their umbrellas to those below to help them shield themselves from the water cannon.
Police arrested some protesters who remained at the scene after the crackdown took place.
Under the emergency decree declared by Prayuth, anyone could be arrested for violating the rules.
After protest organisers declared an end to the demonstrations, police continued to fire water cannons at remaining protesters.
20.43 น. ถึงแม้แกนนำจะประกาศยุติการชุมนุมแล้ว แต่ยังมีผู้ชุมนุมบางส่วนยังเผชิญหน้ากับเจ้าหน้าที่ตำรวจ— OFF CHAINON (@Offchainon) October 16, 2020
Protesters had called for the former military ruler to be removed, reforming the monarchy, and a new constitution to replace the one drafted under military rule.
Protesters have had it with the establishment
The months-long protests present the largest challenge in years to Thailand's establishment, which is dominated by the military and the monarchy, according to the BBC.
While the king has not addressed the protests directly, he said in comments broadcast on state television that Thailand "needs people who love the country and love the monarchy", according to Reuters.
Prayuth had also said to the media that he will not quit.
He warned people not to violate emergency measures, which would be in force for up to 30 days.
He said: “Just wait and see... If you do wrong, we will use the law.”
Thai government had justified the passing of emergency measures by citing the incident in which Queen Suthida was heckled when the royal motorcade passed by the protesters on Oct. 14.
Protesters had given the three-finger salute -- a symbol of political resistance -- and shouted "our taxes", referring to the their monetary contributions to the royal coffers.
Top image adapted via Thai PBS