Aggressive protesters take over Bangkok streets: PM ready for talk

Via Metro.us

On Sunday, thousands of anti-government protesters took control of key intersections in Bangkok, defying a fourth-day ban on protests with chants of "down with dictatorship" and "reform of the monarchy."

His spokesman said that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, a former junta leader who the protesters are seeking to oust, is concerned about the spread of protests and the government wants to talk.

Despite the arrest of dozens of protesters and their leaders, the use of water cannons, and shutdowns on much of Bangkok's metro rail system, demonstrations persisted in an effort to quench over three months of street action.

"Free our friends," a mass of colorful ponchos and umbrellas called out to the protesters as they stood in the rain. Some held up pictures of protest leaders detained. Since Oct. 13, at least 80 protesters have been arrested, with 27 still in detention, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said. The police didn't provide an overall number.

Prayuth 's spokesperson said the prime minister was afraid that the 70 million protests across the country could be used by troublemakers seeking to instigate violence.

"The government wants to speak together to find a way out," Speaker Anucha Burapachaisri told Reuters. He did not specify who the government was hoping to speak with.

After the arrest of many of the leaders of the protest, previously unknown figures have emerged to lead crowds organizing on their own.

As protesters took over the Victory Monument and Asok, two of Bangkok's most important transport hubs, the police did not take immediate steps to intervene. Police said the Victory Monument alone had about 10,000 people. There was no plan to suppress the protest there, a spokesman said.

Protesters say Prayuth engineered the election last year to maintain the power he seized in a coup in 2014, an accusation he denies.

IN FOCUS: MONARCHY

The demonstrations have also become more openly critical of the monarchy of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, breaking a long-standing taboo, demanding curbs on its powers for anyone insulting the king despite potential prison terms of up to 15 years.

Protesters painted a flag on the road with "The Republic of Thailand" written across it during protests by tens of thousands of people at various points throughout Bangkok on Saturday. Overnight, the writing had been painted out.

No comment on the protests has been made by the Royal Palace.

In Bangkok on Thursday, the government banned demonstrations.

Throughout Thailand, demonstrations were organized on Sunday in at least 19 other provinces. In Taiwan, Denmark, Sweden, France, the United States, and Canada, solidarity protests have also been held or planned.

Protesters, who adopted Hong Kong activists' rapidly moving tactics, kept police guessing where a slew of social media posts would hold demonstrations.

In a so-called Milk Tea Alliance that refers to popular drinks in both places, links have grown between protesters in Thailand and Hong Kong. Joshua Wong, a Hong Kong activist, tweeted in support of the Thai protesters.

"It is impossible to deter their determination for # Thailanddemocracy," he said.

Publish : 2020-10-18 22:24:00
# Bangkok # Thailand # Anti-Government # Protest # Asia