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World Thai Activists Call for Strike After Thousands Protest Monarchy

13:25  20 september  2020
13:25  20 september  2020 Source:   bloomberg.com

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Thailand ’s anti-government protesters , emboldened by their biggest demonstration since the 2014 military coup on Saturday, called for a general strike The Thammasat group called for a general strike on Oct. 14 and urged supporters to show solidarity by not standing during the royal anthem and

Thousands march to demand curbs on the power and budget of the royal family.

(Bloomberg) -- Thailand’s anti-government protesters, emboldened by their biggest demonstration since the 2014 military coup on Saturday, called for a general strike next month as the movement challenges long-held taboos including questioning the monarchy’s powers.

Organizers of Saturday’s rally handed a list of demands to a representative of King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s Privy Council on Sunday, and installed a plaque on the royal grounds that read: “The country belongs to the people, not the monarchy.”

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Thailand ’s biggest anti-government protest in months has ended with calls for a general strike as demonstrators challenge long-held taboos on authority and the monarchy . The protesters wanted changes in the Constitution that would lead to greater democracy and less power for the monarchy .

Read more: Thai activists accused of defaming king 'disappear'. After continuing to wear the T-shirt in public, the activist was taken forcibly from his home Thailand 's Royal Office did not respond to DW's requests for comments about the ongoing protests and the king's role in Thailand given his absence.

About 50,000 people joined the gathering on a field traditionally used for royal ceremonies next to the Grand Palace, according to the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, the student-led group organizing the event.

The Thammasat group called for a general strike on Oct. 14 and urged supporters to show solidarity by not standing during the royal anthem and displaying white ribbons. They’re also calling for a boycott of Siam Commercial Bank Pcl, in which the king is the majority shareholder.

a person standing in front of a crowd: Thousands Gather For Anti-Government Demonstrations In Bangkok 28 images © Photographer: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images AsiaPac Thousands Gather For Anti-Government Demonstrations In Bangkok 28 images

School students protest in front of the Ministry of Education in Bangkok on Sept. 5.

Photographer: Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images

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Thai activists challenge monarchy by laying plaque. Student-led protests first began in July against Thailand 's government. These called for General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seized power In August protesters broke the taboo, and at one rally a 10-point call for reform to the monarchy was read out.

Thousands of protesters staged another anti-government rally in the Thai capital, Bangkok, on Sunday to demand political reforms. "We want a new election and a new parliament from the people," 24-year-old student activist Patsalawalee Tanakitwiboonpon told the cheering crowd.

Last month, the group listed 10 demands, including a call for revoking the country’s strict lese-majeste laws that criminalize insults of senior members of the royal family. The demonstrators’ challenges to the monarchy confront deeply entrenched taboos in Thailand, where openly criticizing the royals can lead to long jail sentences.

The protesters’ other demands include a change to the constitution to allow a separation of the monarch’s properties from the Crown Property Bureau; and aligning the budget for the monarchy with economic conditions.

Why Protesters Are Back on the Streets in Thailand: QuickTake

Over the past months, the protest movement has expanded, with various groups using digital spaces to set meetings and spread their demands in a style of organizing reminiscent of the leaderless flash mobs in Hong Kong and the U.S. The demonstrators are also calling for changes in the constitution that would remove the military influence in politics and for a new, more democratic election.

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Thousands of people have protested in the Thai capital Bangkok calling for reform of the political system, including the role of the monarchy . Thailand has a long history of political unrest and protest , but a new wave began in February after a court ordered a fledgling pro -democracy

At least six pro -democracy activists were also arrested on Wednesday and Thursday on charges of sedition, a crime that can carry a seven-year prison sentence, the Thailand is bound by strict laws that criminalize criticism of the monarchy , potentially landing offenders in jail for up to 15 years.

The Thammasat group organizers plan to march to parliament on Sept. 24 to protest the government’s proposed charter amendment that doesn’t include a reform on monarchy.

Mounting Protests

The mounting protests present a challenge for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, a former army chief who led the 2014 coup and stayed in charge after a disputed election last year conducted under rules written by his military government. The premier has said the government was looking into possible amendment of the charter that was drafted by the junta ahead of last year’s vote.

“Our hope is to spread our message and communicate to people why we need to reform the monarchy, why we need to get rid of Prayuth’s regime,” said Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, one of the leading voices of the Thammasat group. “We want the government to realize that our movement isn’t insignificant. Don’t think that we’re just students.”

At the weekend demonstration, people of different ages sat on the lawns and cheered speakers’ calls for changes to the constitution and government.

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Thousands of people have protested in the Thai capital Bangkok calling for reform of the political system, including the role of the monarchy . The calls for royal reform are particularly sensitive in Thailand , with criticism of the monarchy punishable by long prison sentences.

A pro -democracy movement led by student groups has gathered pace across Thailand for the last couple of months, with some activists openly calling for reforms of the kingdom's unassailable monarchy . Tens of thousands have turned out this weekend for a show of force in Bangkok, defying

One demonstrator, Somchai Weaingkum, said his father had accompanied him to the rally, and had brought him to protests in 2010 when he was 15 years old. “We want a full democracy, not just a pretend one,” Somchai said.

Piyanuch Saengsawang, 70, said she joined the protest with two friends her age because she’s worried about the future for her grandchildren. “Over the past decade, we see this country heading in the wrong direction. The fight led by this generation gives us hope,” she said.

Budget Delay

Prayuth’s government is currently without a finance minister after the previous chief resigned less than a month into the job, and it’s facing a two-week delay in its fiscal year 2021 budget amid slow stimulus spending. The Thai economy, heavily reliant on trade and tourism, is on course for its deepest ever annual contraction of 8.5% this year.

With the economy already weak, it’s unclear whether fiscal policy can step up to provide support, according to Tim Leelahaphan, an economist at Standard Chartered Pcl in Bangkok. The bank remains cautious on the economic outlook and expects a further cut in Bank of Thailand’s key interest rate, he wrote in a note.

Since the protest movement began in July, 14 people have been arrested by police and later released on bail, according to data from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. At least 61 people faced charges for leading or participating in the protests, with some of them facing sedition charges which can lead to up to seven years in jail.

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