Pro-democracy protestors react to tear gas from riot police during a rally near Din Daeng intersection in Bangkok, Thailand, August 2021. This day marked the beginning of an escalation in violent protests that continued through the rest of the year, primarily located around the Din Daeng area.
A pro-democracy protestor holds up a sign reading "Ratsadon" during a motorbike rally from Ratchaprasong intersection to Victory Monument in Bangkok, Thailand, August 2021. The Ratsadon protest group is a reference to Khana Ratsadon (The People's Party), founded in 1926, that organized a peaceful revolution against King Prajadhipok, leading the country from an absolute monarchy into a constitutional monarchy.
Pro-democracy protestors flee from chemical water cannon's during clashes with riot police at Din Daeng intersection in Bangkok, Thailand, August 2021. Riot police switched to the strong chemical water seen here, after protestors began to counter tear gas with gas masks and tear gas canister neutralization methods, defense against water cannons is limited to running and hiding.
A pro-democracy protestor has tear gas washed from his eyes during clashes with riot police near Din Daeng intersection in Bangkok, Thailand, August 2021. Many young protestors came entirely unequipped, without gas masks or helmets, sometimes because they could not afford it.
Members of the protest group Talugas stand for a portrait in front of Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand, October 2021. Talugas (roughly translating to "walks through gas") are a new group with lots of very young members, and were often chastised by other protest groups for their heavy use of homemade explosives and fireworks.
Riot police march towards Victory Monument, using tear gas and overwhelming numbers to drive back pro-democracy protestors, as homemade explosives were thrown back at them, in Bangkok, Thailand, August 2021.
A riot police officer fires rubber bullets from between two water cannon trucks during clashes with pro-democracy protestors near Din Daeng intersection in Bangkok, Thailand, August 2021.
A portrait of Warit Somnoi, 15, is seen next to flowers and the blurry image of someone holding an unidentified firearm, at his memorial in front of Din Daeng police station in Bangkok, Thailand, October 2021. Warit Somnoi was shot by an unidentified person after dark, following a protest in the Din Daeng area, and passed away two months later due to his injuries. Thai police insisted they were not connected to the shooting, and arrested Chutipong Tidkratok, 28, who denied all charges.
Pro-democracy protestors rest during clashes with riot police at Din Daeng intersection in Bangkok, Thailand, September 2021. Anti-police sentiment is strong among younger protestors, and sits at odds with the older generation's relationship with police which focuses on a mutual understanding of where and how a protest will proceed.
A pro-democracy protestor waves a Thai flag in the direction of riot police at the end of a day of clashes at Din Daeng intersection in Bangkok, Thailand, August 2021.
"We have nothing left to lose," was a sentiment often echoed by Thailand's youthful protest groups throughout 2021. Many felt abandoned and oppressed by their government, magnified by the lack of an economic recovery plan during the Covid-19 pandemic. Others lost their parents to Covid and were homeless. Together they wanted Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha to resign, and for multiple months, faced daily clashes with police using tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets. They learned to make homemade explosives in retaliation, and the violence eventually lead to the death of one boy, though the exact circumstance was kept from the public. Older generations of protest leaders advocated cooperating with police, arguing that they were not the real enemy, but feelings of betrayal and mistrust were too strong. Young protestors saw the police only as an arm of the government that was trying to stifle their voices.