Thousands of protesters participated in a demonstration in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, on August 16, Sunday, supporting the ongoing students’ protest against the civic-military regime led by prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and calling for extensive reforms of the monarchy.
With an estimated 10,000 participants, Sunday’s protest was among the single-largest demonstrations to be held in Thailand in recent history, according to the organizers. Protesters marched and congregated at the Democracy Monument, a landmark commemorating the 1932 Siamese Constitutional Revolution that first ended absolute monarchy in the nation. Protesters were reportedly seen chanting “Long Live Democracy!” and calling for the resignation of the Prayut government.
The demonstration in the capital on Sunday is being seen as growing support for the ongoing protests in the country organized largely by students in university campuses.
Thousands of students have been participating in almost daily protests calling for reforms to the monarchy. Last week, there was a stand-off between students and the police at the Thammasat University campus in Bangkok. The Thai ruler Rama X, although constitutionally limited from being politically active, is the wealthiest head of state in the world and enjoys extensive protections from criticisms through the country’s harsh lèse majesté laws.
Recent arrests of activists and students under the lèse majesté laws prompted students to call for reforms. Pro-democracy protests have been ongoing since at least February this year, when the opposition Future Forward Party, led by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, was dissolved by the Constitutional Court over a technicality. As the students’ protest gains more support from the wider society, the pro-democracy movement has found new momentum.
According to Prachatai, before the demonstration on Sunday, conservative, pro-monarchy and pro-government groups held a counter-demonstration with barely a few dozen participants. These groups have threatened to file lawsuits against the anti-government protest organizers, the Free People Movement.