Thai Protesters Call on Prayuth Government to Resign | Thailand News


About 2,500 Thai protesters took to the streets of Bangkok on Saturday night to demand the resignation of the government and the dissolution of parliament, defying the coronavirus ban on rallies in one of the biggest street protests since a military coup from 2014.

Those in attendance at the student rally near the Democracy Monument in Bangkok cited a litany of complaints against the year-old civilian government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the former army chief who ousted a government elected six years ago.

Organizers made three demands: the dissolution of parliament, an end to harassment of critics of the government, and amendments to the constitution written by the military which critics say virtually guaranteed victory for Prayuth’s party in the elections to the ‘last year.

“How can we be okay with the lack of democracy like this? Student activist Tattep Ruangprapaikit told the crowd.

There were also veiled public references during the protest to the powerful Thai monarchy, despite a law prohibiting criticism of the king. Such references would once have been unthinkable.

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The police were on standby but did not move to stop the demonstration. The monument was surrounded by signs indicating: “No entry without authorization. Maintenance in progress. ”

The protests began with groups of students, but over the course of the evening hundreds more arrived to join, bringing the number to around 2,500, according to organizers and estimates from journalists there.

The demonstration broke up around midnight, but the organizers said they would return to the streets in two weeks if their requests were not met.

“Whose home is it in Germany?”

Public opposition to Prayuth has increased in recent months.

Since last year’s election, a court has dissolved the second largest opposition party, giving its ruling coalition tighter control in parliament.

Prayuth also saw several cabinet members resign Thursday due to internal strife.

Prayuth’s Palang Pracharat Party campaigned on a vision of traditional Thai culture and loyalty to King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Thailand is officially a constitutional monarchy, but insulting the king carries 15 years in prison and many conservatives regard the monarchy as sacrosanct.

Certain signs and speeches during the Saturday demonstration made veiled references to the monarchy.

“It’s our country, but who is in Germany?” Said one of the student leaders on a small stage set up in the street.

King Vajiralongkorn owns an estate in Germany, where he spends much of the year.

A protest sign read “The lost faith is definitely not a crime !!!” #Thiwakorn, “referring to a separate demonstration in northeast Thailand on Friday in support of a man who was interned in a mental hospital after wearing a t-shirt saying he had lost faith in the monarchy.

Another banner read “The People’s Party is not dead” – a reference to the political party whose revolution ended absolute royal rule in 1932.

Last month, Prayuth publicly warned political activists not to risk their futures by criticizing the monarchy.

Previous protests this year have been fueled by a February court ruling dissolving a popular opposition political party whose democracy-promoting policies had drawn substantial support among young Thai people.

Supporters of the Future Forward party believed the group was being targeted for its popularity and for criticizing the government and military.

Protests against the government drew growing crowds at the time, but declined rapidly when multiple clusters of coronaviruses were confirmed and emergency law was invoked.

Lockdown measures and social distancing have since helped the government contain the spread of the virus, but it has retained emergency powers, which critics say it uses as a political weapon.


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