Several injured in police action against pro-democracy protesters in Thailand

Protesters in Thailand are demanding a curb on the monarchy’s power. The government led by prime minister Prayush Cha-ocha has resorted to repression of the protesters and arrested several leaders

November 18, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Thai protesters

Scores of protesters were injured in the early morning hours of November 18, Wednesday, in Thailand’s capital Bangkok after the police used force to prevent them from marching to the country’s parliament building. The current round of anti-monarchy and pro-democracy protests in Thailand have been ongoing since July. 

Protesters are demanding the resignation of prime minister Prayush Cha-ocha and deep constitutional reforms to curb the powers of king Maha Vajiralongkorn. Protesters have particularly raised the issue of the king’s control over the royal fortune as well as some military units, and want it to be transferred to the elected government.  

The parliament is currently debating proposed reforms to the constitution and was expected to vote on them on Wednesday. However, the amendments would be difficult given the complexities of the process and the military’s control over the upper house of the parliament. As per reports, the parliament has voted to form a constitutional drafting committee for the reforms.   

The government has meanwhile resorted to oppression of the protesters and arrested several leaders. The police used teargas and water cannons against the protesters on Tuesday when they tried to jump razor wire and concrete barricades. Several protesters were reportedly also injured by bullets. The police have denied use of live ammunition and announced an inquiry to find the source of the gunshots. Tuesday was considered the most violent day of the protests.

The protesters had given a call for a march to the parliament on Tuesday to force the parliamentarians to carry out the required amendments in the constitution. They were met with a large number of pro-monarchy right-wing groups, dressed in yellow, who were gathered to demand that none of the reforms be carried out. The police claimed to have used force in order to prevent clashes between the two groups and for the safety of the parliamentarians.

Following the police crackdown, pro-reform protesters announced escalation of the protests and have given a call for fresh protests. Thousands of protesters were already gathered at the Ratchaprasong intersection in central Bangkok early morning on Wednesday. 

A military coup led by Cha-ocha overthrew the democratically elected government in Thailand in 2014. While he was elected in last year’s elections, the results were disputed by the opposition. Cha-ocha has refused to resign and denies that his election was unfair.