World Thai king in rare praise for pro-monarchists
Thailand’s lese majeste law: A weapon to silence dissent?
Since the 2014 coup more than 90 people have been prosecuted under the lese majeste law and 43 have been sentenced.The continuing protests have prompted the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to declare a state emergency on Thursday, and order the arrest of activists and their supporters.
In a rare gesture, Thailand's king has been shown on video praising a man who supported the monarchy at an anti-government protest.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn thanked the man, who had held up a portrait of his late father.
Correspondents say this gesture may be a royal endorsement for those willing to come out and support the monarchy.
The monarchy has not previously commented on protests that have begun to raise questions about its role.
What did the king say?
King Vajiralongkorn lives more in Germany than in Thailand and when he is in Bangkok he typically presides over formal occasions in which there is little opportunity for interaction with ordinary people, the BBC's Jonathan Head reports from Bangkok.
Thai democracy protesters defy ban for fourth day
Thousands of pro-democracy protestors took over a major Bangkok intersection on Sunday with posters bearing the faces of arrested activists, defying a ban on gatherings and stern warnings from authorities who have escalated a crackdown in recent days. The youth-led movement has suffered several blows this week, with scores arrested after demonstrators surrounded a royal motorcade and flashed a pro-democracy salute to Queen Suthida during a Wednesday protest.
But he broke that custom on Friday night, coming out from a temple ceremony with Queen Suthida, spending some time with a crowd of well-wishers, and speaking to a few of them.
He thanked a man who had held up a portrait of the king's late father during an anti-government rally.
"Very brave, very brave, very good, thank you," the king says to him in a video circulated widely on social media.
The monarchy is officially held to be above political disputes, and the palace has until now said nothing about the protests, our correspondent says.
What has the reaction been?
The brief interaction has drawn a big response in Thailand.
Royalists including Warong Dechgitvigrom, leader of the Thai Pakdee (Loyal Thai) group, said it was a touching moment that illustrated the king's care for the people.
'A moving current': Thai protesters adopt Hong Kong tactics
Umbrellas as shields, secure chat groups and hand signals as warnings of a pending police crackdown -- Thailand's pro-democracy protesters have taken inspiration and lessons from their counterparts in Hong Kong. Despite the similarities, however, Hong Kong has not seen deadly state crackdowns of the kind Thailand has witnessed in the past against democracy movements. One user on Hong Kong's Reddit-like forum, LIHKG, quipped it was unnecessary for Hong Kong to teach Thais how to protest."They had more coups than you've had meals," he wrote. "When they used grenades in 2014, you were still singing protest songs.
But protesters said the king's comment had made his opposition to them clear. The #23OctEyesOpened hashtag has now been tweeted more than half a million times.
Why are people protesting in Thailand?
The student-led movement is demanding the resignation of Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former general who seized power in a 2014 coup and last year became prime minister after a controversial vote.
The protesters want a new election, amendments to the constitution and an end to the harassment of state critics.
They are also questioning the monarchy's powers, which has led to unprecedented public discussion of an institution shielded from criticism by law.
Thailand's lese-majeste law, which forbids the insult of the monarchy, is among the strictest in the world.
The protests have been largely peaceful for three months, but royalists may now feel emboldened to come out and confront the student-led reform movement after the king's comments, raising the risk of clashes between the two sides, our correspondent reports.
Britain’s richest musicians under 30: can you guess who they are? .
Britain’s richest musicians under 30: can you guess who they are?