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World 'Thailand doesn't need you': ultra-royalists push back against protesters

09:30  26 october  2020
09:30  26 october  2020 Source:   msn.com

Two Thai protesters could face life imprisonment for violence against the Queen

  Two Thai protesters could face life imprisonment for violence against the Queen Two activists in Thailand have been arrested on charges of attempting violence against the Queen, which could result in a possible life sentence. © Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP/Getty Images Pro-democracy activist Bunkueanun "Francis" Paothong comforts loved ones before he enters the Dusit police station to answer charges of harming Thailand's Queen Suthida on October 16, 2020. The arrests come after Queen Suthida's motorcade drove past protesters in Bangkok on Wednesday, with video showing the crowd shouting and holding up the defiant three-finger salute inspired by the Hunger Games movie franchise.

Anti -government protesters march from Democracy Monument to Government House in Bangkok in A protester holds a sign reading 'not even your wives like you ' in reference to King Vajiralongkorn, who Police tries to separate Thai royalists supporters (in yellow) from pro-democracy protesters

Protesters have become increasingly openly critical of the monarchy, despite lese majeste laws that stipulate a prison sentence of up to 15 years for insulting or On Wednesday, a small royalist rally in Bangkok broke into violence when a few attendees attacked anti -government student activists.

Pictures of coffins and guns, and threats of death and violence: protests targeting Thailand's government and monarchy have hardened feelings amongst ultra-royalists, who are pushing back with aggressive abuse online.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Thailand has for months been rocked by student-led protests calling for democratic reforms -- but royalists are now pushing back © Madaree TOHLALA Thailand has for months been rocked by student-led protests calling for democratic reforms -- but royalists are now pushing back a person standing in front of a crowd: Thai royalists accuse pro-democracy protestors of seeking the overthrow of the revered monarcy © Lillian SUWANRUMPHA Thai royalists accuse pro-democracy protestors of seeking the overthrow of the revered monarcy

The messages, some of which have got thousands of likes, are a danger sign for some, who point to the violent confrontations that have rocked Thailand in the past.

Thailand protests: Government vows to protect the monarchy after weekend of unrest

  Thailand protests: Government vows to protect the monarchy after weekend of unrest Thailand's government has vowed to protect the monarchy after tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters rallied in Bangkok and other cities over the weekend, as calls for a new constitution and curbing the King's powers continue to grow.Demonstrators again defied an emergency decree banning public gatherings of more than five people and hit the streets en masse for a fifth straight day on Sunday, with about 10,000 people surrounding Bangkok's Victory Monument in the heart of the capital and blocking traffic around one of the city's main business centers.

Thailand ’s growing protest movement, which was set off by student activism last month, has since gained broader support. While Thailand has escaped the brunt of the pandemic, it has been pummeled economically, and millions are out of work.

Anti -government protesters hold up a three-finger salute (a sign of dissent in Thailand ) near the Grand Palace in Bangkok. Protesters say they are not calling for the abolition of the monarchy, but for it to be modernised. Their demands have angered royalists . Is it illegal to criticise the king?

The threatening rhetoric follows months of student-led rallies that have drawn tens of thousands of people, calling for democratic reform and changes to the monarchy -- previously a taboo subject.

"People who insult the monarchy deserve to die!" wrote one Facebook user, hurling insults at prominent activist Anon Numpa -- a key figure pushing for royal reform.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Thailand's powerful military and billionaire clans are strongly supportive of the monarchy -- and have little incentive to support reforms © Madaree TOHLALA Thailand's powerful military and billionaire clans are strongly supportive of the monarchy -- and have little incentive to support reforms

"Thailand doesn't need people like you!"

Some memes circulating on social media threaten violence -- from a rifle-wielding man claiming the monarchy must be "defended at all costs" to a picture of a coffin photoshopped next to an activist.

Thai protesters ask court to revoke order, continue rallies

  Thai protesters ask court to revoke order, continue rallies BANGKOK (AP) — Student activists applied to a Bangkok court Wednesday to revoke a state of emergency the government declared last week to try to rein in Thailand's growing protests. Demonstrations have continued daily in a movement that calls for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to step down, for a more democratic constitution and for reforms to the monarchy — a revered institution traditionally treated as sacrosanct in Thailand. Protesters wereDemonstrations have continued daily in a movement that calls for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to step down, for a more democratic constitution and for reforms to the monarchy — a revered institution traditionally treated as sacrosanct in Thailand.

Yellow-shirted Thai royalists confronted anti -government protesters in Bangkok on Wednesday, with both groups shouting and scuffling. The royalists had gathered at Ramkhamhaeng University to show support for King Maha Vajiralongkorn's monarchy.

Thailand is set for a fresh wave of street protests by pro-democracy activists after Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha ignored their deadline to quit by Saturday. Protesters announce plan to march to German embassy on Monday. Special session of parliament set to discuss protests .

a group of people walking down a street: Pro-royalists have held portraits of Thailand's king during rallies in support of the monarchy © Madaree TOHLALA Pro-royalists have held portraits of Thailand's king during rallies in support of the monarchy

Former MP Warong Dechgitvigrom, who founded pro-monarchy group Thai Pakdee (Loyal Thais), insists his compatriots are peaceful.

"We have no intention of using violence," the 59-year-old retired gynaecologist tells AFP.

The monarchy is necessary for stability, he insists, slamming Thailand's "brainwashed" youth.

"They don't want to reform royalty, they want to destroy it," Warong says.

"Without a monarchy, there would be a civil war."

- 'Very brave. So good' -


Video: Thai pro-democracy protesters clash with police (AFP)

King Maha Vajiralongkorn sits at the apex of Thai power, flanked by the military and the country's billionaire business elite.

His influence -- and that of his late father Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned for 70 years -- permeates every aspect of Thai society.

These Are Key Players to Watch in Thailand’s Political Upheaval

  These Are Key Players to Watch in Thailand’s Political Upheaval Thailand is besieged by the biggest anti-government protests in years with a youth-driven movement declaring every participant as a leader. That’s making it tough for authorities to wear down the pop-up demonstrations calling for the government’s ouster and monarchy reforms. The mass gatherings are set to continue after demonstrators rejected Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha’s overtures for a truce by revoking a state of emergency in Bangkok and convening a special parliament session to discuss the protests. The activists have threatened to intensify protests if the premier failed to meet a three-day deadline to quit.

Thailand 's King Maha Vajiralongkorn waves to royalist supporters in Bangkok today, after a report claimed he had secretly been taken to hospital earlier this week. The king leans back in his seat while a camera-wielding Queen Suthida waves to royalist supporters from the motorcade in Bangkok today.

Protesters are continuing to march the streets of Thailand , demanding the resignation of the country’s prime minister. Demonstrators are speaking out against the country’s royal family and military rule. You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN

The royal family is protected by one of the world's harshest royal defamation laws: any perceived criticism can land a person in jail for up to 15 years per charge.

But the student demands for reform have shattered those norms, with some demonstrators carrying "Republic of Thailand" signs at rallies.

Many protesters even failed to kneel earlier this month when a royal motorcade passed -- as dictated by centuries-old tradition -- and instead brandished a defiant three-finger salute.

While he has not publicly commented on the protest movement, the king has made recent public appearances among supporters -- a rare charm offensive for the monarch, who spends long stints away in Europe.

On Friday after an official ceremony, the king and his wife, Queen Suthida, broke with royal protocol to praise a supporter who held up a portrait of the king's late parents at a pro-democracy rally.

"Very brave. So good. Thank you," the king told the man, according to video footage posted on Facebook.

That quote was trending as a hashtag on Twitter over the weekend, along with #fightonmajesty.

Here’s What May Happen Next in Thailand’s Historic Protests

  Here’s What May Happen Next in Thailand’s Historic Protests With Thailand’s parliament set to convene on Monday to find a way out of a political crisis fueled by street protests, one thing is becoming clear: There is no easy solution for the military-backed government. Protesters calling for democratic reforms and changes to the monarchy were undeterred by an emergency decree prohibiting large gatherings, prompting Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha to lift it and call for calm. That was met with fresh calls for his resignation and even more protests.

14, royalists denounced it as unforgivable harassment in a kingdom whose constitution demands reverence for the monarchy. "The emergency declaration was necessary to prevent other incidents and conflicts," he said, rejecting protesters ' accusations that it was a provocation to justify harsh measures.

Thailand is besieged by the biggest anti -government protests in years with a youth-driven movement declaring every participant as a leader. That’s making it tough for authorities to wear down the pop-up demonstrations calling for the government’s ouster and monarchy reforms.

- 'We love the king' -

Some ultra-royalists have called for further action against the growing pro-democracy movement.

Describing protesters as "garbage who need to be disposed of", a former military general has launched a Facebook group targeting those who have called for reform.

"I am willing to go to jail for my actions because I need to protect the monarchy at any cost," Rienthong Nanna writes on his page, in a message that drew 13,000 likes and was shared 850 times.

Such online aggression could easily spill over into real life, worries Patrick Jory, an academic with Australia's University of Queensland who has studied previous democratic movements in Thailand.

"Whenever the monarchy has felt threatened, (the state) has always responded with violence," he says, noting patterns of turmoil in the 1970s, 1990s and 2010.

Thailand's powerful military and billionaire clans have every incentive to ensure the status quo goes unchanged, he adds.

"All of the interests that are guaranteed by the monarchy, and actually their own personal status in Thai society", would be under threat if there is real royal reform, he tells AFP.

But painting all royalists as wealthy or part of an elite establishment is unfair, said royalist Sirilak Kasemsawat, a tour guide from Ubon Ratchathani province.

"I'm an ordinary person," she told AFP as she waited to pay her respects to the royal motorcade earlier this month.

"We want to show that we love the king."

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