WATCH: Thousands gather to call for new constitution, ‘real democracy’ in Bangkok, Thailand
Protesters are demanding a civilian-produced constitution, as the current charter was drafted by the military while King Maha Vajiralongkorn has received largely unheard-of criticism in recent months. He is accused of consolidating his own power and fortune in absentia, while residing mostly in Europe, contrary to the will of the people.
Eyewitness footage from the scene shows the sheer scale of the crowds who gathered at the country's Democracy Monument, which commemorates the bloodless 1932 revolution which ended the absolute monarchy in the country.
Another one from the protest yesterday: crowds doing “the wave”. Look how far back it goes! #ขีดเส้นตายไล่เผด็จการ#WhatsHappeningInThailand#แท็กเพื่อนไปม็อบ#ให้มันจบที่รุ่นเรา#ให้มันจบที่รุ่นเรา#เยาวชนปลดแอก#ประชาชนปลดแอก#MilkTeaAlliancepic.twitter.com/eDnkDCiKkZ— Teirra Kamolva... (@Teirrabyte) August 17, 2020
Criticism of the royal family is punishable by lengthy prison sentences under Thai law, and assemblies of this scale are also illegal under emergency measures taken to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite this, Bangkok police estimate some 10,000 people attended a rally on Sunday, and some 600 police officers were deployed to maintain order, though there were no reports of arrests.
Near daily student protests have been held in recent weeks, culminating in larger, more widely-attended protests this past weekend, some of the largest anti-government protests in the country since Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power in a coup in 2014.
Chants of “Down with dictatorship, long live democracy” rang out across the crowd as activists gave speeches over the course of eight hours.Also on rt.com Thailand’s police say protest leaders violate coronavirus emergency law
The protests began as far back as February, when the progressive opposition Future Forward Party (FFP) was dissolved by court order.
After a months-long hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, daily student protests began again on July 18 and now appear to have gained more widespread support, despite claims of human rights abuses and concerns over the disappearance of several leading anti-government activists and critics of the monarchy.Also on rt.com Thailand’s PM asks student-led protesters ‘not to create chaos’
One student leader, 22-year-old Parit Chiwarak was arrested last week and charged with sedition, assault and holding an event likely to spread disease.
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