Authorities in Thailand’s capital Bangkok stopped almost all major rail transit as thousands of vengeful protesters took to the streets, banning large public gatherings for the third consecutive day.
On Saturday, a mass demonstration launched for a single location was re-broadcasted at the sites of three transit stations across the city center, with protesters chanting “Pruthooth Out,” a reference to the prime minister, and three-finger flashing Chanting the mantra became a symbol of resistance in the country.
Protests against the government of Prime Minister Prathuth Chan-Onha, which began earlier this year, gained momentum this week as officials pushed efforts to end the movement. The government on Thursday issued an emergency decree banning the gathering of more than five people.
According to police estimates, later that day more than 12,000 people joined in defiance of the order and the organizers called for continued protests. He has rallied primarily behind three major demands: the dissolution of the government, a new constitution and an end to the oppression of government critics.
The former army chief, Mr. Prathuth led a coup in 2014 and presided over a Janata government for nearly five years before elections last year which made him an elected leader. The elections were halted due to allegations by opposition leaders and pro-democracy activists that the electoral process favored the military-backed party.
Some activists have gone beyond the three demands, openly criticizing the powerful monarchy of the country, breaking a long-held taboo. The emergency decree issued on Thursday cited an incident in which some protesters shouted slogans as a motorcyclist transporting the queen after the royal family was involved.
Thailand has one of the strictest laws in the world for alleged insults to the royal family, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years. Although the authorities have avoided making laws against these protesters, two activists were recently charged under another section in which they accused the queen of harming them.
Mr. Prathuth told reporters on Friday that he had no intention of resigning. Mahal has not commented on the protests.
On Friday, the police deployed a water canon to disperse the crowd for the first time, further deepening public anger. In scenes reminiscent of antiwar demonstrations in Hong Kong, protesters prodded in front of riot police to shield themselves from a spray of water with a blue pigment behind a wall of open umbrellas, a tactic that sometimes allowed police to attend Used to identify.
Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, who is a key figure in protests against Chinese influence in the region, shared a photo on Twitter on Saturday, with the hashtag himself “#StandWithThailand” and the hashtag “#MilkTeaAlliance” Gave a three-finger salute with. An online coalition of pro-democracy activists.
Thousands of people joined the protests on Saturday afternoon at Bangkok’s Lat Phrao intersection, where some were seen streaming others wearing protective helmets and dark glasses. The protesters were mostly young, some of them teenagers, many wore raincoats and had eye protection in anticipation of a collision. copes with. Some protesters said that in the past days, liquid sprayed with water cannons burned their eyes.
“The government should listen instead of using water cannons to clamp down on us,” said 22-year-old Shim Mungthong, a university student. “We belong to the next generation, we want space to express our opinions freely. We will not use violence, we have come here with bare hands, we want us to listen to what we are saying. ”
Authorities are struggling to stop the demonstrations as protesters become increasingly bold. Human rights groups have referred to an action in the case, with more than 50 activists arrested this week, including several prominent leaders. One of the two men charged with the intent to harm the queen, student activist Banqueon Pothong, was released on bail.
Antigovernment protests are common in Thailand, but skirmishes between two politically aligned groups were characterized for years. The current movement is different, analysts say, pro-democracy led by a new generation less attached to tradition and connected to the world beyond its borders.
Michael Montesano, coordinator of Thailand’s study program at the Singapore-based ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, said, “The forces that set these protests apart are against a generation that won’t take it anymore.” “The reason they won’t take it anymore is because they have access to the Internet, and they get a sense of how things work in other parts of the world.”
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