- “Dissolution of Parliament!” “Shame on the dictator” chanted the crowd.
- King Maha Vajiralongkorn did not comment directly on these demonstrations.
- The military has warned that it will not stand down, threatening a curfew if the situation continues.
Tens of thousands of protesters on Sunday, for the fourth day in a row, continued with demonstrations in Thailand, despite a ban by the local authorities on gathering in Bangkok. The protestors are demanding the immediate resignation of the nation’s prime minister and a thorough reform of the monarchy.
The largest crowd gathered at the Democracy Monument in the center of the capital, from where they sang the national anthem. They waved a salute with three fingers, a gesture of resistance copied from the film “The Hunger Games.”
“Dissolution of Parliament!” “Shame on the dictator” chanted the crowd.
During Friday’s protests, police forced protesters to retreat using water cannons and a series of arbitrary arrests. However, that didn’t deter the protesters, comprising mostly of students.
“If we are together we have a better chance to win, but if we let people fight alone there will be less chance to win,” a 24-year-old protester, who called herself Pear, said at a rally at the busy Asoke intersection, located in the commercial heart of the capital. “So we are here to express ourselves, what we are wanting and what we are expecting for the future as well.”
The movement is calling for the repeal of the law that punishes any defamation or insult against the monarch, or the royal family in general, with three to fifteen years in prison. The protesters are also calling for more transparency in the finances of the rich monarchy, and the sovereign’s non-interference in political affairs, a taboo subject in the country until a few months ago.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn did not comment directly on these demonstrations, but declared on public television that Thailand “needs a people who love their country, a people who love the institution” that the monarchy represents.
The national police spokesman, Yingyos Thepjumnong, on his part, warned that if the protesters defy the law, law enforcement will take its course. The organizers called for other demonstrations in various provinces of the kingdom, and also overseas, in places such as France, the United States, Canada, and even in Norway.
The Prime Minister, Prayut Chan O Cha, whose resignation protesters are demanding, came to power by a coup in 2014. His rule was legitimized by controversial elections last year.
Protesters are also denouncing the “bad” economic situation in the country, highly dependent on tourism, and blocked by the coronavirus pandemic. Thailand is in full recession, with millions of unemployed people.
The military has warned that it will not stand down, threatening a curfew if the situation continues.
Authorities on Thursday enacted emergency measures to try to break up the protest, including a ban on gatherings of more than four people, and on internet postings deemed “contrary to national security.”
The decree has, however, been referred to by Human Rights Watch as a “green light” to “violate fundamental rights” of the people of Thailand.
Thailand isn’t new to political violence. The country has so far recorded twelve coups since the abolition of the absolute monarchy in 1932.