BANGKOK, Thailand -- After the military-backed government used
truck-mounted cannons to blast irritant-laden water at revolutionary
youngsters in the street last week, the protests spread.

“Don’t challenge the Grim Reaper," Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha warned.

"We are just asking people not to do wrong and destroy the government
and people’s property.

"What the government needs to do is to protect the monarchy," Mr.
Prayuth said on October 19.

The regime repeatedly shut down Bangkok's mass transit system during
the protests, stranding thousands of passengers.

That also did nothing to stop the escalating pro-democracy dissent.

Looking increasingly desperate, vulnerable and bewildered, Prime
Minister Prayuth did the unthinkable -- he declared it illegal to post
online any selfies photographed at rally sites.

Protesters and others laughed at what seemed to them to be Mr.
Prayuth's ridiculous response.

Peaceful, nationwide, pro-democracy protests led by tens of thousands
of university students and school children gathered on the seventh
straight day October 19.

This time they chose three main sites near Khlong Prem Prison,
Kasetsart University and the Health Ministry and elsewhere in Bangkok
plus other cities.

They duplicated successful rallies which were announced at 3 p.m. each
day on Twitter, Facebook, and the secure messenger app Telegram.

"Death to dictatorship, long live democracy," a massive crowd shouted
during a rally on October 19.

Similar to previous protests, they blocked traffic, voiced often
vulgar anti-Prayuth and anti-monarchy speeches, and dissolved at 8

"A leaked government document ordered Internet service providers in
Thailand to block access to Telegram," Khaosod English news media
reported on October 19.

It was not possible to immediately confirm that report but Khaosod is
usually reliable.

"The 'Top Secret' order, seen by Khaosod English, cited the emergency
decree that granted security officers power to block and control any
information on the internet deemed to cause unrest in the country.

"The letter was addressed the National Broadcasting and
Telecommunications Commission, telling the agency to pass its
instructions to all service providers," Khaosod reported.

Free Youth, one of the groups leading the protests, invited their
thousands of online members to join their Telegram channel on October
19 for "unlimited information."

Free Youth Group's updates include translations into Thai from Hong
Kong's Chinese-language protest manuals which advise "be like water"
mobility instead of occupying sites, plus what to wear and where to

Hoping to stop the increasingly popular protests, authorities on
October 18 made it illegal for anyone to photograph themselves at a
rally and post that selfie online.

Selfie violations are punishable by two years imprisonment and a $1,330 fine.

Police reportedly busted more than 10 people for selfie crimes.

At Bangkok's Victory Monument on October 18, many protesters gleefully
shot selfies with the dramatic scene of tens of thousands of
demonstrators in the background.

It was unclear if they would post those pictures online because of the ban.

More than 10,000 people, mostly students in their teens and twenties,
peacefully gathered at Victory Monument's traffic circle, standing and
sitting in the street.

Similar to recent shutdowns, the government cancelled all public metro
rail services throughout Bangkok on October 18 afternoon, but the
rally appeared without additional police interference.

In front of locked gates at two metro stations on October 18,
protesters placed a plastic dish filled with dog food and a sign
mocking rail system officials for obeying the temporarily shut down

Shops, restaurants, and other facilities remained open at the protest sites.

The rallies need virtually no financing except for a portable,
extremely loud speaker system and electric generator, enabling
multiple leaders to voice lengthy statements to cheering crowds.

Their "flash mob" hit-and-run tactics have rattled Mr. Prayuth, a
former army chief.

Thailand's politically minded, U.S.-trained military brought him to
power in a 2014 coup, endorsed his 2019 election, and supported him up
to now.

Protesters demand Mr. Prayuth's resignation, a new constitution
without the political and human rights restrictions he inserted in a
rewritten 2017 charter, and fresh elections for parliament including
the 250-seat senate which he helped monopolize with appointees.

Their most shocking, difficult and dangerous demand is to limit the
powers and wealth of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, 68, one of the world's
richest monarchs.

"Now it is understood that the country needs people who love the
country and love the monarchy,” the constitutional monarch said in a
speech on October 16.

Most of what protesters shout at rallies, spray paint as graffiti on
Bangkok's grimy walls, post on the Internet, and say in news
interviews about the monarchy is illegal under the constitution and
harsh lese-majeste law.

Punishment can be 15 years in prison.

Police recently arrested two activists under a separate law after
other nearby protesters displayed their revolution's three-finger
salute, inspired by the "Hunger Games" movie, and shouted at a
motorcade transporting Queen Suthida and her step-son Prince
Dipangkorn who is heir apparent.

The two men denied flashing three fingers or voicing any dissent
during the brief incident in Bangkok on October 14.

Punishment can be life imprisonment.

Mr. Prayuth responded to the swelling protests on October 15 by
clamping Bangkok under a "serious state of emergency," extending an
existing state of emergency declared in March to fight the

The new edict bans gatherings in public of more than five people,
distributing or publishing data that the government perceives as
instigating fear or distorts information, and using public
transportation or buildings for dissent.

Security forces, enjoying immunity under the edict, can detain people
for 30 days in military camps without access to a lawyer.

The protests began in July. On October 13, tens of thousands of people
began making daily appearances on Bangkok's streets.

During recent days, similar student-led mass rallies have appeared in
several main cities scattered across this Buddhist-majority Southeast
Asian nation.