Thailand: Thousands of students protest against government and monarchy

Thousands of students held anti-government demonstrations at a university in Thailand, challenging the government and its conservative establishment.

About 4,000 protesters chanted “Long live democracy” at Thammasat University on the outskirts of Bangkok on Monday. This is the largest protest by students in recent times.

Students demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who first seized power in a 2014 coup. The also demand greater democracy and less power for the monarchy.

Some groups have also demanded the government rewrite the constitution by the end of September to disband the military-appointed Senate and change election laws to make them more democratic, after which the government would resign and hold a new vote.

Other demands include removing a provision preventing people from bringing lawsuits against the monarchy, separating the monarch’s properties from the Crown Property Bureau, aligning the budget for the monarchy with economic conditions, banning the monarch from expressing political opinions and prohibiting the monarchy from endorsing any coups.

The students fear that the Prime Minister is trying to create confrontation that could lead to another military intervention.

On Monday, the government supporters rallied in front of the parliament saying the student protests could threaten Thailand’s monarchy.

On Friday last week, two activists involved in the student protests were arrested on charges of sedition and breaking restrictions to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Human Rights Watch said several other protesters around the country had been harassed.

The government however has denied blocking student activism.