About 10,000 join anti-government rally in Bangkok

17 Août, 2020, 09:23 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • About 10,000 join anti-government rally in Bangkok

Demonstrators are demanding a revised constitution, an end to the harassment of government critics and reforms to the monarchy.

Student activists at Thailand's most prestigious university defied a ban by college administrators and staged an anti-government rally on Friday, as a prominent protest leader was arrested elsewhere for his involvement in a previous demonstration.

Prayut led a military coup six years ago and served as head of the interim government.

About 10,000 people have gathered in central Bangkok to protest the continuing influence of the military in politics, even after the country returned to civilian rule. Others held dove-shaped cutouts representing peace.

The most vocal opposition party was subsequently banned.

The wave of protests has pressured Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha's government, whose competence to run the economy was already in question before the pandemic, with growth struggling in comparison with Thailand's Asian neighbors.

Students have presented 10 reforms they seek to the monarchy of King Maha Vajiralongkorn - including curbing his powers over the constitution, the royal fortune and the armed forces.

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"Down with feudalism, long live the people", protesters chanted. The monarchy is protected by a draconian defamation law that carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

"I don't care if they protest against the government but they can not touch the monarchy", said Sumet Trakulwoonnoo, a leader of the royalist group, Coordination Center of Vocational Students for the Protection of National Institutions.

Thailand has experienced multiple coups ever since the army toppled the absolute monarchy in 1932, replacing it with a constitutional monarchy.

"The students came out for a few weeks and I want to support them", said Thanyarak Suksarard, 50, a veteran of past red shirt protests.

"Now there are new faces".

Several activists involved in organizing earlier protests have been arrested on various charges, including sedition. They have been released on bail, but police say arrest warrants have been issued for a further 12 protest leaders while others are under investigation.

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