Saturday, 31 October, 2020

Thai protesters vow new demonstration despite crackdown

Two Thai protesters could face life imprisonment for violence against the Queen Thailand PM Prayuth Chan-ocha says he's not quitting after months of anti-government protests
Deanna Wagner | 17 October, 2020, 15:37

"Prayuth, get out", the protesters chanted, in reference to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former military ruler they accuse of engineering an election a year ago to prolong the hold of the army.

Thai police used water cannon and pushed forward with riot shields and batons yesterday to try to disperse thousands of protesters in the capital who defied a ban on protests for a second day and in spite of a warning from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

After police used water cannon for the first time against a protest by thousands of people in central Bangkok on Friday, protesters agreed to assemble at different points across the city on Saturday.

"The (use of force) will increase the numbers of protesters", said 21-year-old Nine, an engineering student.

Protesters want to oust Prayuth, who first took power in a 2014 coup, saying he engineered election rules a year ago to keep his position - an accusation he denies. We have to proceed because the situation became violent. He said his government hoped to withdraw the state of emergency ahead of its normal 30-day duration "if the situation improves quickly". They were detained for their role in the ongoing protests, which call for a new constitution, an end to the monarchy, and the removal of Prayut.

Protesters defied the ban and staged one of the biggest demonstrations in Bangkok on Thursday evening."I'm not quitting", Prayuth told reporters after an emergency cabinet meeting.

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"Pheu Thai Party calls on General Prayuth Chan-ocha and the state officials to lift the emergency decree and to stop intimidating the people in all manners and to release those who were arrested immediately", said the party, which has the most seats in parliament.

He warned people not to violate the emergency measures, saying: "Just wait and see". "We will continue to protest on October 17", it said, telling people to be ready for the police to use suppression tactics.

Hundreds of chanting Thai protesters demonstrated in Bangkok on Saturday in defiance of a crackdown on three months of action aimed at the government and the powerful monarchy, witnesses said. Breaking a longstanding taboo, protesters have also called for curbs on the power of the monarchy. "The government would like to ask protesters to not gather and remain peaceful". In comments recorded a day earlier and aired by state television yesterday, King Maha Vajiralongkorn said Thailand "needs people who love the country and love the monarchy", though he did not directly comment on the protests.

He was referring to an incident Wednesday that showed some members of a small crowd heckling a motorcade carrying Queen Suthida and Prince Dipangkorn as it slowly passed.

One protester was arrested during Friday's rally, which follows the earlier detention of around two dozen of the most prominent activists, including two under a rarely-used law banning violence against the queen.

Local media say the offence carries a maximum penalty of life in jail. You can teach the new generation of your experience. "This will be greatly useful".