More protests planned after massive show of defiance

Thai pro-democracy protesters are planning for more protests against the government after a massive rally in support of arrested protest-leaders on Thursday.

Protesters had defied government orders and held a rally on Thursday night with over 10,000 people attending. The protesters gathered in downtown Bangkok to demand that the Prayut Chan-ocha government step down and release arrested protest leaders.

Pro-democracy protesters sit on the ground during a demonstration at a road intersection in Bangkok on October 15, 2020, after Thailand issued an emergency decree following an anti-government rally the previous day.

The protesters say they will continue to gather in downtown Bangkok everyday until their compatriots are released from jail. Another rally has been called for Friday at 5 pm.

The government had previously said that anyone attending the rallies were in violation of a newly imposed emergency decree. Police said that they would arrest and charge anyone going to or advocating for more protests. However, on Thursday, police forces pulled back to avoid confrontation with the large number of protesters.

Build up

Anti-government protests have taken place throughout the country for the past three months with student protesters calling for the removal of the Prayut Chan-ocha government and a rewriting of the military-drafted constitution.

A major rally took place on Wednesday with protesters calling into question Thailand’s royal institution. An incident occurred during the protest in Bangkok’s old town with unprecedented scenes that saw protesters demonstrating in front of a royal motorcade which included the King and the Queen.

The incident led to the arrests of several protest leaders with Prime Minister Prayut calling the incident unacceptable and promising decisive action against the leaders.

Thailand’s monarchy has traditionally held a sacred place in Thai society and is protected by an archaic lese majeste law that can imprison anyone guilty of ‘insulting’ the monarchy by up to 15 years.

Since the student-protests started, however, rally-goers have called into question the role of the traditional institution and its alleged interference into politics and governance.

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