Pro-democracy protest called in Bangkok after months-long suspension

Bangkok, Jun 23 (EFE).- Student groups on Wednesday announced new pro-democracy protests in Thailand after they were suspended for months as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country and the arrest of its main leaders.

The protests, which halted in March after several clashes with the police, will resume in the Thai capital from Thursday, a date that coincides with the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.

The Ratsadon (People) group, one of the main organizers of the protests, said on social networks that they plan to meet at the central Democracy Monument and march from there to the parliament building, in the north of the city, where they will hand over a letter with their demands.

The pro-democracy protests, led by students and generally peaceful, began in July 2020 to demand the resignation of the Thai prime minister, the drafting of a new Constitution – since the current one was written by the old military junta ( 2014-2019) – and the goal of reducing the power wielded by the military.

However, the boldest demand is a reform of the monarchy to cut down its political influence, and an amendment of the lèse majesté law, which punishes criticism of the crown with up to 15 years in prison.

More than a dozen student leaders have been charged under this law, criticized by the UN for being excessively strict, due to their activities during the protests.

Some of them, such as Arnon Nampa, Panupong ‘Mike’ Jadnok, Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak or Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, were recently released on bail after spending weeks in pre-trial detention.

At a press conference on Wednesday, the Thai police reminded the leaders of the conditions for their release which include refraining from taking part in activities deemed to defame the Thai monarchy.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who ascended the throne in 2016, doesn’t enjoy the reverence of his late father Bhumibol Adulyadej, and his long stays in Germany and opulent lifestyle in Bavaria have drawn criticism during the Covid-19 pandemic, which is crippling the Thai economy. EFE


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