Thailand′s largest pro-democracy rally in years draws 10,000 | News | DW | 16.08.2020
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Thailand's largest pro-democracy rally in years draws 10,000

Demonstrators are demanding Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who took power in a military coup in 2014, speeds up reforms. The protest movement, which erupted almost a month ago, is gathering momentum.

An anti-government protest in Thailand's capital Bangkok drew at least 10,000 people on Sunday, police said, making it the largest political demonstration the kingdom has seen in years.

The student-led protests began nearly a month ago and have been held on an almost daily basis ever since.

Demonstrators are demanding a revised constitution, an end to the harassment of government critics and reforms to the monarchy.

The last demand is particularly sensitive in Thailand — anyone criticizing the monarchy faces between 1.5 to 15 years in jail.

They also want Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who took power in a 2014 military coup, to resign.

Read more: Thai protesters call for end of monarchy on king's birthday

Bangkok protest (Reuters/S.Z. Tun)

Protesters used mobile phones as flashlights at a rally calling on the government to resign

'Down with the dictatorship'

Crowds of demonstrators shouting "down with the dictatorship" gathered around the capital's symbolic Democracy Monument. Others held dove-shaped cutouts representing peace.

Student activist Parit Chiwarak made an appearance at the rally, despite being granted bail on Saturday after being arrested for his pro-democracy work.

Flanked by supporters, he held a sign that read: "10-point Monarchy Reform" – referring to a list of demands setting out changes that student protesters want to see implemented.

Police were also present, as well as a much smaller group of royalists who support the monarchy.

Read more: Life after the tourist trade for Thailand's elephants

Watch video 02:50

Thailand: Protesters call for political change

Waves of protests

Thailand has experienced multiple coups ever since the army toppled the absolute monarchy in 1932, replacing it with a constitutional monarchy.

The government held elections last year but these were seen as rigged, sparking public anger.

The latest wave of protests began in February this year after a court ordered the pro-democracy Future Forward Party to disband. The onset of the coronavirus pandemic, however, put a pause on these protests until recently.

kmm/mm (AP, AFP, dpa)

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