Thousands rally against government, monarchy as protests grow beyond college campus

Anti-government and anti-monarchy protesters gathered in large numbers in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok on Sunday.

Thousands of people assembled at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument, a traditional venue for political activities, where they heard speeches, watched skits and listened to music.

Hundreds of police were also present, as well as a small contingent of royalists opposed to the protesters.

This was one of the biggest protests in Thailand in recent years.

The protests started off at the Thammasat University on the outskirts of Bangkok a week ago.

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.

Police have arrested several protest leaders and charged them with sedition for statements.

The Thai government view the students’ calls for more democracy as radical and antithetical to the culture, which typically reveres the monarchy as semi-divine.

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