Hundreds of protesters gathered in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok on Thursday, to call on police to release the arrested activists against urgent measures previously imposed to suppress the pro-democracy movement.

Thailand has rolled out emergency measures and banned more than five people from gathering to stop youth-led demonstrations that have rocked the country since mid-July.

“Free our friends!”, they chant as they blocked a major crossroad in Bangkok which was witnessed by hundreds of police officers. Many have raised the three-finger greeting, which is used as a symbol of the developing movement.

Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler reports from Bangkok that more than a thousand people have gathered peacefully in an upscale shopping area in downtown Bangkok.

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Following the announcement of emergency measures, police dispersed protesters who had stayed overnight in front of the Government House and arrested 22 activists.

Thursday’s gathering took place a day after tense anti-government protests, in which thousands gathered to call for reforms in the monarchy.

Videos widely shared on social media show police guarding the royal family’s yellow car as it moves through the crowd raising their hands with a three-finger salute.

State television said it has become necessary to impose emergency measures to solve the situation. The announcement is accompanied by documents specifying the measures, which take effect at 4 a.m. local time (21:00 GMT), prohibiting large gatherings and allowing authorities to confine people to their designated areas.

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The emergency decree gave authorities the authority to arrest demonstrators without court orders and to confiscate electronic communication equipment, data and weapons suspected of being linked to the movement.

Online communications that endanger national security are also prohibited.


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