Protesters present proposal to reform Thailand to authorities

Bangkok, Sep 20 (efe-epa).- Leaders of the student movement that has been protesting Thailand’s government presented authorities their demands and proposals for democratic reform Sunday.

Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul handed over a letter, composed of three demands and 10 proposals focused on the role of the monarchy, to the police chief of Bangkok thereby ending a mass demonstration that brought together more than 200,000 people to the square in front of the Grand Palace, according to the organizers.

The student leader said that if the document was not handed over to King Vajiralongkorn, who lives outside the country for long periods of time, and no progress was made, they would continue staging demonstrations throughout the nation.

Parit Chiwarak, another organizer of the protest, the largest since the military coup of 2014, called for a strike on Oct. 14, the day commemorating the student massacre at Thammasat University in 1976 by ultra-royalist groups.

The protesters placed a plaque with the words “Thailand belongs to the people,” a similar symbol to the one placed in memory of the Siamese revolution of 1932 and the fall of the absolute monarchy that mysteriously disappeared in 2017.

“This is the first great victory of the people,” Parit told media, adding that the cross-country movement to reform the country would not end until it achieved its objective.

The demands include a reform of the constitution and the dissolution of the parliament, which they consider a successor to the military junta, led at the time by current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, which ruled the country between 2014 and 2019, as well as a reduction in the power and influence of the army in politics.

However, their most contentious demand is limiting the power of the monarchy, subjecting it to constitutional controls, and ending the lèse majesté law that lays down prison terms of up to 15 years and other punishments for criticizing the royal household.

The current monarch, King Vajiralongkorn, has not inherited the charisma and respect enjoyed by his father, late Bhumibol Adulyadej, and spends a large part of the year in Germany, evoking criticism during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year Vajiralongkorn married former flight attendant Suthida and named her the queen, months before officially introducing a royal consort, Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi.

For decades, nobody has dared to publicly demand a monarchy reform in Thailand, which shows an evident generation gap between the university students and their parents, many of whom are against this debate. EFE


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