Thousands of demonstrators gathered this Sunday near the Grand Palace in Bangkok, to call on the Prime Minister to resign and ask the king to start dialogue on a reform of the monarchy.
Already on Saturday, pro-democracy protesters joined an LGBT rally in Bangkok to try to make their voices heard, as they have been doing since the summer.
On Sunday, several thousand police officers were deployed around the procession. Authorities had warned that they would block access to the former royal palace, and riot police briefly used the water cannons to disperse protesters who were approaching.
Controversial elections last year
“We don’t want to overthrow royalty, we want to make it fit for society,” one student said, as activists carried a life-size cardboard coffin with a mannequin depicting government chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha. “Go to hell”, was it written under the effigy.
Protesters are still calling for the resignation of Prayut Chan-O-Cha, brought to power by a coup in 2014 and legitimized by controversial elections last year. They also demand the abolition of the lese majesté law – which punishes up to 15 years in prison for any defamation or insult to the monarch or one of his relatives -, a control over the royal fortune and non-interference of the sovereign in political affairs.
Protesters encountered a barricade of buses and barbed wire as they attempted to walk from the Democracy Monument to the Royal Household Office. Despite the water cannons, some managed to get to the Sanam Luang area, near the Grand Palace. Their goal: to file their demands written in a letter to King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
“Dialogue to resolve crises together”
“We hope that you will change your behavior once and for all and that you will become the king of all peoples,” one of the leaders of the Anon Nampa movement posted on Facebook. “I hope that Your Majesty will accept the dialogue to resolve the crises together,” added the activist, indicted for “sedition” but recently released on bail like the other main headliners of the protest.
Maha Vajiralongkorn, nicknamed Rama X, however closed the door last week. Asked about a possible reform by a journalist, straight off, he replied; “We love everyone the same.” And to add that “Thailand is a land of compromise”.
Ascended to the throne in 2016 upon the death of his father, the revered King Bhumibol, Rama X is a controversial figure. In a few years, he strengthened his powers, notably by taking control of the royal fortune. His amorous escapades are intriguing; his frequent stays in Europe, when the country is in full recession since the Covid-19 pandemic, also raised questions. In the spring, he had settled in a palace in Bavaria, specially reopened for him, his harem and his suite.
Original article by : www.leparisien.fr