Several thousand Thai demonstrators dressed in black, the majority of them young, flocked to the Democracy monument in Bangkok on Saturday to denounce the government’s policies, during a rally marked by scuffles, amid an economic crisis without previous due to the Covid-19 epidemic.
Crowds chanted anti-government rap songs and waved placards denouncing the government of former army chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha, and calling for the abolition of the severe lese majesty law in place in the kingdom.
“The government doesn’t care about us, so either we come forward or we are losers anyway … the laws protect the rich and leave the people with nothing,” says Sang, an 18-year-old student who does not. ‘identifies only under that name.
Placards denounced Law 112 of the Criminal Code on Defamation, which protects the monarchy in Thailand and the wealthy monarch Maha Vajiralongkorn, reigning under the name of Rama X, against any form of criticism.
Protesters wore black uniforms inspired by the clothing of protesters from the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
Hundreds of police officers tried to block access to the Democracy monument, but clashes erupted when protesters climbed over metal barriers and forced their way through the police cordon to gather in front of the memorial, built to mark the revolution of 1932 at the origin of the constitutional monarchy.
Analysts believe that the kingdom, where absolute monarchy was replaced by a constitutional monarchy after the 1932 revolution, shows a tendency to return to absolutism under the reign of Rama X and the ultra-royalist generals around him.
Saturday’s protest could be the largest in the kingdom since General Prayut Chan-O-Cha’s coup in 2014, remained in power after controversial elections in 2019.
The leaders of the emerging movement bringing together young people and students stress that their actions are organized on social networks, where anger against the government is expressed daily.
The Thai economy is expected to contract by 10% in 2020 due to the epidemic of the new coronavirus, with the halt to tourism and exports which has mainly hit the middle and working classes.
Hundreds of thousands of students are predicted to be unemployed when they graduate in September.
burs-apj / gle / mr / sg
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