Thai demonstrators call for release of protest leaders
Bangkok, Feb 10 (efe-epa).- More than a thousand people gathered in Bangkok on Wednesday to protest Thailand’s strict lèse-majesté law, which prescribes prison terms of up to 15 years for insulting the monarchy.
The fresh demonstration in the Thai capital came a day after prosecutors denied bail for four leaders of the pro-democracy movement who are facing lèse-majesté charges for their role in mass protests last year, which called for reforms to the country’s powerful monarchy.
It was the first large protest in Bangkok since leaders called a temporary hiatus for new year and due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the country late last year.
Demonstrators on Wednesday held up signs that read “freedom for our friends” and banged pots and pans, echoing a tactic seen in the recent anti-coup protests in neighboring Myanmar.
The inspiration is mutual — protesters in Myanmar have also adopted the three finger salute, popularized by the Hunger Games saga and appropriated by Thai pro-democracy demonstrators.
Organizers of the Bangkok protest on Wednesday reiterated the movement’s three key demands: the removal of the prime minister, former general Prayuth Chan-ocha, amendments to the Constitution — drafted to favor the military — and most controversially, reforms to the all-powerful monarchy.
The four protesters facing lèse-majesté and sedition charges are Anon Nampa, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarat, Somyot Pruksakasemsuk and Patiphan Leucha. It is the first case in which prosecutors have formally pressed lèse-majesté against pro-democracy demonstrators. EFE-EPA