Largest protest against the government in years: thousands demonstrate in Thailand for more democracy – politics

In Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, thousands of people took part in the largest protest in years against the government and the Thai royal family. “Down with feudalism, long live the people,” said the organizer of the protests, Parit Chiwarak, on Sunday.

In protest against the role of the royal family, protesters placed a people’s plaque at the royal palace: “The people have expressed the intention that this land belongs to the people and not the king,” it read.

It was the largest gathering of protesters since the 2014 coup that brought Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha to power. “People have woken up,” said student Napassorn Saengduean at the end of the meeting in the capital. The 20-year-old added, “I’ll keep coming back until I die.”

The plaque was taken to the historic grounds of Sanam Luang to loud cheers from the protesters. In addition to the protest action on the ground, the protesters also went to the office of the State Council. There, they filed a list of claims against King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who ascended the throne in Thailand three years ago after the death of his father. Dozens of officers kept watch, flanked by water cannons.

The protesters, some of whom were inspired by the protest movement in Hong Kong, demand not only the resignation of the government led by ex-army chief Prayut, but also the abolition of a controversial law protecting Thailand’s monarchy. This provides for draconian penalties for criticizing the royal family and is often used by the authorities to silence opponents of the government, according to critics.

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Many protesters are also calling for a public debate on the role of the military-backed monarchy, a revision of the constitution drafted by the military in 2017, and greater transparency over the royal family’s finances.

Up to 30,000 protesters in Bangkok

On Saturday, thousands of protesters, including many students, gathered on the grounds of Sanam Luang in Bangkok to protest against the royal family and the government. According to authorities, 18,000 people gathered – according to estimates by AFP reporters, there were up to 30,000 protesters.

Protesters also stormed the grounds of Thammasat University. ‘Down with the dictatorship. Long live democracy, ”the students shouted before throwing open the gates and flooding the grounds. In general, the anti-government demonstrations were peaceful. Authorities reported more than two dozen arrests and the activists were released on bail.

Student leaders pose next to a newly applied plaque with the inscription “This land belongs to the people” Photo: REUTERS / Soe Zeya Tun

The protests in Thailand have been going on for two months. On Thursday, the organizers called for a new meeting before the parliament in Bangkok. On October 14 there is a general strike.

Thailand can look back on a recent history of conflict: there have been several military coups d’état in the last twelve years. The last coup took place in 2014, after which the military ruled for years. Last year, Prayut emerged victorious from a parliamentary election overshadowed by allegations of fraud. (AFP)

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