“Down with the dictatorship”: thousands of demonstrators across Thailand

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Pro-democracy protesters give way to an ambulance in Bangkok.

Bangkok:

Thousands of anti-government protesters took control of key intersections in Bangkok on Sunday, defying the ban on demonstrations for the fourth day with chants of “down with the dictatorship” and “reform the monarchy”.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former head of the junta the protesters are seeking to oust, is concerned about the spread of the protests and the government wants to speak out, his spokesperson said.

The protests have persisted despite the arrest of dozens of protesters and their leaders, the use of water cannons and the shutdown of much of the Bangkok metro in a bid to quell more than three months of street action .

“Free our friends,” the protesters shouted as they stood in the rain, a mass of colorful ponchos and umbrellas. Some held up pictures of detained leaders. Thai human rights lawyers said at least 80 protesters had been arrested since October 13 and 27 remained in detention. The police did not give an overall figure.

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Prayuth’s spokesperson said the prime minister feared the protests, which spread across the country of 70 million people, could be used by troublemakers seeking to incite violence.

“The government wants to discuss to find a solution together,” spokeswoman Anucha Burapachaisri told Reuters. He did not say who the government hoped to speak with.

After the arrest of many leaders of the protest, hitherto unknown figures have emerged to lead crowds that are organizing themselves.

Police took no immediate action to intervene as protesters took control of Victory Monument and Asok, two of Bangkok’s most important transport hubs. Police said there were around 10,000 people at the victory monument alone. A spokesperson said there was no plan to quell the protest there.

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Protesters claim Prayuth organized last year’s election to retain power he seized in a 2014 coup – a charge he denies.

THE MONARCHY IN FOCUS

The protests have also become more openly critical of King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s monarchy, breaking a long-standing taboo, demanding restrictions on his powers despite potential jail terms of up to 15 years for anyone insulting. the king.

During protests by tens of thousands at various locations across Bangkok on Saturday, protesters painted a flag on the road with “Republic of Thailand” written on it. The writing was painted overnight.

The Royal Palace did not comment on the protests.

The government banned protests in Bangkok on Thursday.

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Across Thailand, protests were being staged in at least 19 other provinces on Sunday. Solidarity demonstrations were also organized or planned in Taiwan, Denmark, Sweden, France, the United States and Canada.

The protesters, who adopted the quick tactics of the Hong Kong activists, made the police guess where the protests would take place with a slew of social media posts.

Ties have developed between protesters in Thailand and Hong Kong as part of a so-called Milk Tea Alliance referring to popular drinks in both places. Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong tweeted in support of the Thai protesters.

“Their determination for #Thailanddemocracy cannot be dissuaded,” he said.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by The Bharat Express News staff and is posted Platforms.)

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