Thousands of citizens took over key intersections in Bangkok on Sunday, defying a ban on protests for the fourth day with chants of “down with dictatorship” and “reform the monarchy.”
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, is concerned about the spreading protests and the government wants to talk, his spokesman said.
Prayuth’s spokesman said the prime minister feared the protests, which have spread across the country of 70 million, could be used by troublemakers seeking to instigate violence.
“The government wants to talk to find a way out together,” spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri told Reuters. He did not specify with whom the government hoped to speak.
Demonstrations have persisted despite the arrest of dozens of protesters and their leaders, the use of water cannon and shutdowns on much of Bangkok’s metro rail system in a bid to quell over three months of street action.
“Free our friends”, the protesters called out as they stood in a rain, a mass of colourful ponchos and umbrellas.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said at least 80 protesters had been arrested since October 13, with 27 still being held. While the police have not given an overall number.
After the arrest of many of the protest leaders, previously unknown figures have emerged to lead crowds which organise by themselves.
Police said strong crowds of around 10,000 people were at Victory Monument, one of Bangkok’s most important transport hubs.
Across Thailand, demonstrations were being organised in at least 19 other provinces on Sunday. Solidarity protests were also being held or planned in Taiwan, Denmark, Sweden, France, the United States and Canada.
Protesters, who have adopted the fast moving tactics of Hong Kong activists, kept police guessing about where demonstrations would be held with a slew of social media posts.
Thailand’s student-led democracy movement began in July, they been calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. The former army chief had seized power in a 2014 coup before he was appointed as premier after controversial elections last year.
The protests have widened in recent months to also call for curbs on the king’s powers.
Demonstrators also demand the constitution be rewritten; that the authorities stop harassing critics and royal reform are particularly sensitive in where criticism of the monarchy is punishable by long prison sentences.
— www.THEPIGEONEXPRESS.com (@TPE_connect) October 19, 2020