Human Interest

Thai royalists protest against student-led pro-democracy movement

Bangkok, Aug 31 (efe-epa).- Supporters of Thailand’s monarchy have embarked on an ideological counter-offensive against a pro-democracy student movement that has been demonstrating in favor of reforms in the nation since July.

Members of Thai Pakdee (“Loyal Thais”) on Monday posted a letter to the Japanese embassy in Bangkok petitioning officials to restrict the activities of anti-monarchy figure Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who lives and works in exile in Japan.

Pavin is known for founding the Facebook page Royalist Marketplace, which served as a platform for its close to one million members to debate the topic of the royal family in Thailand, a deeply controversial issue.

Pavin currently works as a university professor in Kyoto.

A representative of Thai Pakdee, Akarakij Noonchan, told local media that relations with his children had worsened since they were exposed to anti-monarchy messages on social media.

The royalist protesters, the majority of whom are adults, wore yellow, a color associated with the Thai monarchy.

Numbering around 1,200, members of Thai Pakdee called on the Thai government to protect the country’s royal institution and held up placards that read “save the nation” alongside Thai national flags and photographs of King Vajiralongkorn.

They rallied against the central points of the pro-democracy movement, which, in contrast, calls for new elections, constitutional reforms and for parliament to be dissolved.

Some 10,000 pro-democracy demonstrators took to the streets of Bangkok earlier this month.

The student-led campaign wants to limit the powers of the monarchy and the armed forces, which have taken control of the country in 13 coups since the system of absolute monarchy was abolished in 1932.

Thailand has some of the toughest lèse majesté laws in the world and criticizing or insulting the country’s royal family can lead to a 15-year prison sentence.

The pro-democracy protests have also targeted prime minister Prayut Chan-ocha, a former general who led the 2014 military coup and who was elected head of the government in a 2019 election that has been described by detractors, opposition parties and international observers as rigged and non-transparent. EFE-EPA

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