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Several tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators braved Saturday, the ban on assemblies in Bangkok to demand the resignation of the Prime Minister and a reform of the monarchy, before dispersing in peace.
For the third consecutive day, tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in Bangkok on Saturday, October 17, a challenge to power and to emergency state introduced Thursday which prohibits gatherings of more than five people.
The tensions of Friday, October 16, when the police evacuated the protesters using water cannons and carried out a series of arrests, did not deter the student protest.
On Saturday October 17, the latter was deployed on several sites outside the city center, made difficult to access after the closure of all metro lines by the authorities.
Thousands of people gathered in the north of the megalopolis, chanting “Prayut, fuck you!”, And raising three fingers, a gesture of resistance borrowed from the movie “Hunger Games”.
“If I don’t demonstrate, I won’t have a future,” Min, 18, who had brought a helmet and gas mask to AFP told AFP to protect himself from a possible charge from the police. .
Across the Chao Phraya River, thousands of protesters shouted “Long live the people, down with the dictatorship!” While others blocked traffic in the southeast of the city, carrying signs: “You cannot kill us, we are everywhere”.
Reform of the monarchy
The movement, which has been on the march for three months, is calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, brought to power by a coup in 2014 and legitimized by controversial elections last year. He also dares to ask a reform of the powerful and extremely wealthy monarchy, a taboo subject in the country not long ago.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn did not comment directly on the events, but said on television that Thailand “needs a people who love their country, a people who love the institution. [que représente la monarchie]”.
The situation arouses a strong international enthusiasm: Saturday evening, the hashtag # mobOctober17 was number one on Twitter.
Dozens of people have been arrested over the past four days, including ten leaders of the pro-democracy movement. Some have since been released, others released on bail, others like Anon Numpa, particularly virulent towards royalty, were imprisoned in the north of the country.
The opposition party Pheu Thai called on the government to immediately release those detained.
The promulgated decree is “a green light” given to the authorities “to violate fundamental rights and carry out arbitrary arrests with complete impunity”, condemned the NGO Human Rights Watch, calling on the international community to react.
“Don’t break the law, […] I will not resign, “warned General Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday (October 16th), adding that emergency measures would be applied for a maximum period of thirty days. A curfew is not excluded in the capital city.
The soldier has been in power since he overthrew Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2014.
“Hundreds of thousands of people are now asking for changes,” the latter noted on Twitter, urging Prayut Chan-o-cha to do everything to “restore peace”.
In addition to political tensions, there is an economic crisis. Dependent on tourism and locked down since the coronavirus pandemic, Thailand is in the midst of a recession with millions of people unemployed.
Thailand is used to political violence, with twelve coups d’état since the abolition of the absolute monarchy in 1932.