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World Thai royalists rally to counter surging protests

12:15  21 october  2020
12:15  21 october  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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Thousands of protesters staged another anti-government rally in the Thai capital, Bangkok, on Sunday to demand political reforms. But organisers said they hoped Sunday's rally would show broader support for change beyond the student groups. Bangkok police said on Sunday evening that about 10

© Mladen ANTONOV A royalist supporter holds the Thai national flag. The Thai government declared a state of emergency banning gatherings of more than four people and outlawing online posts deemed a threat to national security on Thursday in a move to end simmering pro -democracy protests .

By Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Royalists speak to media as they attend the gathering event to support Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Bangkok © Reuters/SOE ZEYA TUN Royalists speak to media as they attend the gathering event to support Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Bangkok

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A few dozen Thai royalists held a rally in Bangkok on Wednesday in the face of protests against the government and the monarchy that have drawn tens of thousands of people to the streets in defiance of an official ban.

a man smiling for the camera: A royalist holds a picture of Thailand's late King Bhumibol Adulyadej during the gathering event to support the king in Bangkok © Reuters/SOE ZEYA TUN A royalist holds a picture of Thailand's late King Bhumibol Adulyadej during the gathering event to support the king in Bangkok

Protest groups also urged supporters to demonstrate for a seventh day by gathering at 4 p.m. (0900 GMT).

Thai protest brought forward over disruption fears

  Thai protest brought forward over disruption fears Thai protest brought forward over disruption fearsBANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai anti-government protesters hurriedly brought forward a demonstration in Bangkok on Wednesday, saying they feared confrontation with royalist groups planning to assemble nearby in support of the king.

Pro -democracy protesters attend a rally to demand the government to resign BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thousands joined an anti-government demonstration at a Thai university on Monday, the largest such protest by students, challenging the government and conservative establishment even as royalist

Thai protesters declare 'victory' in monarchy reform rallies , after delivering their demands to authorities. Pro -democracy protesters push over a fence surrounding the Sanam Luang field during a protest in Bangkok, Thailand , on September 19.

The royalists said they had no problem with protesters calling for the removal of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha - a former military ruler - but they should not touch on King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

a group of people standing next to a man wearing a hat: Royalists attend the gathering event to support Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Bangkok © Reuters/SOE ZEYA TUN Royalists attend the gathering event to support Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Bangkok

"I beg you, do what you will, but do not touch the monarchy," one of the royalists, Sirimongkol Ruampan, 24, told Reuters. "I don't believe in violence. I beg again, don't bring the monarchy into politics."

Royalists, most of whom wore yellow, the king's colour, said their gathering was not political and so not subject to the ban on gatherings of more than five people imposed by the government last week.

Police spokesman Yingyos Thepjumnong told reporters that all groups would be treated the same.

Thai Leaders Have No Easy Options to End Anti-Monarchy Protests

  Thai Leaders Have No Easy Options to End Anti-Monarchy Protests Over the past few decades in Thailand, a crackdown or coup would eventually bring an end to street protests and life would more or less go back to normal until the next round of demonstrations. But this time the Thai establishment has a bigger problem: The student-led protest movement doesn’t want power for itself -- it wants to fundamentally change a political system that has seen about 20 military coups since 1932. And they also aren’t afraid to criticize the monarchy, the lynchpin that holds the system in place.

Thailand protests : Protesters defy Bangkok decree for second night. Thailand protests : PM rejects calls to resign, faces renewed demonstrations.

Pro -democracy protesters march towards the Government House during an anti-government rally in Bangkok. Young demonstrators hold up anti-government signs Police tries to separate Thai royalists supporters (in yellow) from pro -democracy protesters during an anti-government protest in Bangkok.

"We are ready for big surprises every day," he said. "We need to balance law enforcement with social peace and safety, no matter at whose gatherings."

Pro-royalist groups took to social media using a hashtag that translates as #WeLoveTheMonarchy to proclaim their loyalty, but it was hijacked by supporters of the protests posting anti-royalist messages.

The protests have become the biggest challenge to Thailand's establishment in years and have drawn the most open opposition to the monarchy in decades despite lese majeste laws setting jail terms of up to 15 years for insulting the monarchy.

A royalist attends the gathering event to support Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Bangkok © Reuters/SOE ZEYA TUN A royalist attends the gathering event to support Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Bangkok

When protests began in July, they originally demanded a new constitution and the departure of Prime Minister Prayuth, accusing him of keeping hold of power last year by engineering an election that he says was fair.

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Thailand protests : Protesters defy Bangkok decree for second night. Thailand protests : PM rejects calls to resign, faces renewed demonstrations.

A pro -establishment rally at Thai -Japan Din Daeng Stadium in Bangkok on Aug. 30, 2020. BANGKOK — Pro -monarchy supporters gather in large numbers With over 1,000 people in the audience, it was the largest counter - protest in response to the student-led movement against the government so far.

a person wearing a hat: A royalist attends the gathering event to support Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Bangkok © Reuters/SOE ZEYA TUN A royalist attends the gathering event to support Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn in Bangkok

The demands for changes to reduce the monarchy's powers came later.

The Palace has a policy of making no comment to media and has made no comment on either the protests or the demands of the protesters.

(Additional reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Writing by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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