Thousands of anti-government protesters have continued to rally in Bangkok, defying a state of emergency declared by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha to quell escalating demonstrations in support of monarchy reform and better democracy.
Protesters shouting “Prayut get out!” gathered at the Ratchaprasong intersection in the middle of Bangkok’s main shopping district and pushed police barricades, demanding the release of leaders arrested by the police in a morning raid.
The gathering of the large crowd shows that the protests are unlikely to abate despite the arrest of key leaders and the government’s move to ban gatherings of five or more people.
The protests, led at first mostly by students, have broken rules about publicly criticizing the royal family, which sits at the apex of power in Thailand. Demonstrators have questioned taxpayer funds that go toward royal affairs as well as laws that stifle discussion of the monarchy.
Then came Thursday , tens of thousands of protesters broke through police lines in a march to Government House, Prayut’s office, in an escalation of demonstrations that began in early July. Some protesters gave a three-finger salute — a symbol of the demonstrations — to a motorcade of Queen Suthida, who smiled and waved at them.
The protesters called the reformation of the monarch and also for the resignation of Prayut, a former army chief who staged a coup in 2014. They are pushing to rewrite the constitution drafted by a military-appointed panel that helped him stay on following elections last year. The government has said it’s open to changes in some areas,however the process to rewrite the constitution has been delayed in parliament.