BANGKOK (AP) – Thailand’s pro-democracy protesters on Thursday returned to the capital’s business district, staging something like a street fair to draw their attention that the The country’s monarchy holds too much power and influence.
Their rally on the city’s Silom Road is seen as a counterbalance to the fashion show hosted by Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, the daughter of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, on Thursday evening.
The princess is a fashion designer and has several stores in the malls and shopping malls in Bangkok selling her luxury items.
A crowd gathered after work took up part of the street, watching the artwork and posters, got serious and satirical, and listened to mostly impromptu speeches.
Sarcasm and satire have played a key role in recent rallies, as was the case again on Thursday when a red carpet was not laid out on the streets as a fashion runway for men. and vampire women in front of an amusing crowd, often making jokes. gestures and appearance of the king.
Student-led demonstrators held demonstrations almost every day, drawing crowds of short periods, sometimes in excess of 10,000.
They want Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to resign, the constitution is revised to be more democratic, and reforms to make the monarchy’s operations more transparent and accountable.
Prayuth first became prime minister in a military government after staging a coup as military commander in 2014 and resumed in office last year after a general election was held. New constitutions and other laws are enacted during the military era aimed at detrimental to existing political parties.
Prayuth said he would not let work under pressure, but his government said it would be acceptable if Congress considered a constitutional amendment.
The protest movement also alleges that King Vajiralongkorn wields an undesirable amount of power in nominal democracy under the constitutional monarchy. The palace controls an estimated fortune of at least $ 40 billion, becoming the richest royal in the world.
The monarchy has long been considered an inaccessible institution, revered by a large portion of the population and protected by force majeure laws that set a prison term of 3 to 15 years for any who was found guilty of defamation of the king and his immediate family.
Criticism of the protest leaders’ royal institution, initially humble but increasingly frank, shocked many Thais, as the topic had not been discussed in advance. general public.
On Tuesday, protesters rallied outside the German embassy to present a letter to the ambassador asking his government to investigate whether King Vajiralongkorn carried out political activities during his visits to Germany. regular of him or not.
Thai royalists have recently staged protest protests, but so far they lack the number and enthusiasm of pro-democracy activists. After a recent attack on student demonstrators by some attendees of the royal rally in Bangkok, there were concerns that violence could break out more.
Chonticha “Lukkate” Changrew, a protest leader, said on Thursday that it was time to ask the government how peaceful student protests would be protected by the state, “they will check control and prevent people who try to incite or use violence against us. “
King Vajiralongkorn has made a number of unusual public appearances over the past week, accompanying Queen Suthida and other family members to greet a crowd of loyal monarchists who have gathered to meet him. These events were recorded on video on smartphones and spread widely on social networks.