Tens of thousands of protesters repeatedly defied the emergency edict
by continuing to gather at daily demonstrations which began on October

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Embattled Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on
October 22 revoked his mostly ineffectual "serious state of emergency"
in Bangkok, one day after saying he "will do so promptly if there are
no violent incidents."

The Royal Thai Government Gazette published his order which took effect at noon.

Prayuth clamped Bangkok under a "serious state of emergency" on
October 15, extending an existing state of emergency declared in March
to fight the coronavirus.

The emergency edict banned gatherings in public of five or more
people, distributing or publishing data that the government perceived
to be instigating fear or distorting information, and forbid using
public transportation or buildings for dissent.

Tens of thousands of protesters however repeatedly defied the
emergency edict by continuing to gather at daily demonstrations which
began on October 13.

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

Police detained nearly 80 people during recent protests, Police
Spokesman Major General Yingyos Thepchamnong said on October 22.

Prayuth had included a promise to lift the edict during his surprise
"de-escalate" offer on October 21.

But that offer may be refused by protesters who want him to resign
within three days, and parliament to be dissolved instead of being
used for negotiations because its Senate was appointed.

The prime minister had presented what he portrayed as a sweet
conciliatory offer, but it came with a sour squeeze.

Police, hours later, arrested a young woman who announced on October
21 the three-day deadline and unveiled a mock resignation letter for
Prayuth to sign.

"If the protestors seek a solution through tough street action, maybe
they will win by side-stepping the parliamentary process," Prayuth
predicted in a nationwide broadcast on October 21 evening.

"Or maybe they won’t.  Both have happened in the past.

"If the state seeks to make problems go away through only tough
action, maybe it will.

"Or maybe it won’t.  Both have happened in the past, too."

Prayuth hinted that the monarchy was not to be harmed, despite the
protesters' demand to "reform" King Maha Vajiralongkorn's power and

"A very important part of what makes every Thai a Thai are our
institutions, rooted in our culture and in centuries of tradition and

"When we damage our heritage, we also lose a very important part of
what makes us all Thai and what makes us all very special in the
world," the prime minister said.

Without mentioning riot police who dispersed protesters by repeatedly
blasting them with chemical-laden water cannons in a Bangkok street on
October 16, Prayuth said:

"Last Friday night, we saw things that should never be in Thailand.

"We saw terrible crimes being committed against the police using metal
rods and huge cutting implements in brutal attacks, with the aim of
severely wounding fellow Thais."

Then he presented his lopsided deal.

"I am currently preparing to lift the state of serious emergency in
Bangkok, and will do so promptly if there are no violent incidents.

"I ask the protesters to reciprocate with sincerity, to turn down the
volume on hateful and divisive talk, and to let us, together, disperse
this terrible dark cloud before it moves over our country.

"Let us respect the law and parliamentary democracy, and let our views
be presented through our representatives in parliament."

Protesters have repeatedly demanded parliament be dissolved after
Prayuth agrees to resign.

Parliament's 500 members of the House of Representatives were elected,
but its 250-member Senate was appointed by Prayuth's government.

One of Parliament's elected opposition leaders, Thanathorn
Juangroongruangkit -- who targeted Prayuth and the US-trained military
supporting him -- was forced out of politics by the Constitutional
Court for violating election laws.

In January, the court dissolved his Future Forward Party, deleting
their 80 seats in parliament.

A new prime minister would need support from at least 375 parliament
members out of a total 750.

Parliament is to hold an unpredictable "special session" on October 26 and 27.

In contrast to Prayuth's self-proclaimed "right decision," police
arrested Patsaravalee "Mind" Tanakitvibulpon, who read the protesters'
three-day deadline for Prayuth to quit, and who presented a
resignation letter at the gates of Prayuth's Government House for him
to sign.

If he did not, protesters said they would stage more street demonstrations.

Police arrested 25-year-old Patsaravalee for allegedly breaking the
now-lifted emergency law during a protest on October 15.

"Our fight is not finished, as long as he does not resign,"
Patsaravalee told a cheering crowd at the hurriedly erected,
barbed-wire barricades protecting Government House.

"If he does not resign in three days, he will face the people again," she said.

"I am not worried," she told reporters as police escorted her away.

"This is the government's game."


Richard S. Ehrlich is a Bangkok-based American foreign correspondent
reporting from Asia since 1978 and author of a new nonfiction book,
"Rituals. Killers. Wars. & Sex. -- Tibet, India, Nepal, Laos, Vietnam,
Afghanistan, Sri Lanka & New York"