Protesters in Thailand attacked by police as they try to submit a petition to the king

Water canons and a blockade met the protesters who sought to petition the King, calling for reforms and return to democracy. Protests have been going on in Thailand for months against the military junta and seeking reduction of royal power

November 09, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Credit: Flickr

Thousands descended on the streets of Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, to submit a collective petition, along with letters addressed to the monarch Vajiralongkorn, on Sunday, November 8. The demonstrators were met with water cannons and a blockade on their way to the royal residence. The water cannon attack injured three people, after protesters broke through the police blockade leading to the Royal Palace.

The incident happened as protesters marched from the iconic Democracy Monument, which has become the epicenter of the protest, to the Royal Palace with the intention to submit their individual letters along with a petition seeking reforms. The letters, dropped into makeshift letter boxes meant for the king, raised concerns on his role in endorsing the coup government of Prayut Chan-o-cha, and called for reforms.

The primary petition that accompanied the letters stated that the king must be open to criticisms and people’s concerns. It stated if the king is open to “hear all the flattering praise from the people, you must also hear fearless criticisms and suggestions all the same. When the king truly cherishes democracy, all people will find happiness.”

Protesters demanded that the king not endorse military coups, limit the appropriation of state revenue for himself and his family, and embrace criticisms from the people. By late evening, after collecting dozens of letters from people, the protesters marched towards the palace, at which point the police declared the demonstration “unlawful.”

According to the Prachatai, this prompted the protesters to push through a blockade set up with buses and barbed wires by the police. This was followed by the water canon attacks. According to reports, journalists present at the site were disproportionately hit by the cannons. The police gave no warning before unleashing the attack or asked the people to disperse during. The police eventually apologized for the attack late in the night.

Massive protests have been going on in Thailand for the past few months, seeking reforms to the monarchy and the resignation of prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, among other demands. On October 13, 21 activists were arrested ahead of a gathering at Democracy Monument, leading to an escalation in protests. The government imposed a curfew on October 15 and cracked down on independent media. On October 22, the government withdrew the emergency, a day after a big march in Bangkok and submitted an unsigned letter of resignation and three-day ultimatum for the resignation of prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

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