BANGKOK — Thai activists hoping to maintain the momentum in their effort for democratic shift held a third significant rally in Bangkok on Wednesday, amid worries about a potential confrontation with authorities or equal groups supporting the authorities.
“Prime minister, escape!” they chanted.
Before leaving Democracy Monument, many tiny clashes broke out between protesters and their opponents, who exchanged punches and pulled plastic bottles as police attempted to keep them apart.
There was speculation the counter-protesters were coordinated from the police, with movies on social websites revealing municipal trucks carrying classes to the website.
The protesters pushed or negotiated their way without a lot of resistance beyond several police roadblocks before reaching their goal, the roads outside Government House, following nearly four hours. Protest leaders declared plans to remain there for three or more days.
The demonstration got off to a rocky beginning following painters issued a post-midnight call for followers to start building at Democracy Monument at 8 pm to ensure they could fasten the place for the rally’s scheduled two p.m. start.
The place was blanketed with authorities, stationed in an organized fashion but sporting yellow sports tops rather than regular uniforms. Yellow tops are a sign of loyalty to the monarchy and are closely related to conservative politics.
The situation had been complicated by King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s plans, which comprised a scheduled push beyond the demonstration place to attend a royal service. The protesters said they’d create sense but there was a risk they could in a minimum reveal public disrespect to the crown. Many cars normally employed by the royal household later were spotted on neighboring roads but their occupants couldn’t be confirmed. Unverified video and photographs on social media revealed what was supposed to be protesters gesturing and yelling near the vehicles, which could be unprecedented for Thailand, in which the royal household has traditionally been respected.
The king left a similar driveway beyond the region on Tuesday after authorities cleared tents put up close to the monument and detained 21 people on small charges.
Historically, efforts to bring democratic reform to Thailand have been reversed by military coups.
“We must struggle,” said college student Kanokwan Kawkaew, 20. “If we do not fight, we’ll lose again.”
The audiences at the past two agendas, held on weekends, were important, with an estimated 20,000 individuals attending a Sept. 19 occasion. However, turnout seemed to be reduced with this particular rally, started on a weekday amid rain.
The protesters have attracted attention due to their requirements for reforms to Thailand’s constitutional monarchy, which they claim does not correctly function in a democratic mindset.
That demand has generated a massive controversy since the royal association has been considered a pillar of Thai identity.
Efforts by many royalist groups to cancel the preceding rallies fell flat, but the turnout of counter-demonstrators was substantially bigger Wednesday.
The protest movement was started in March by college students but immediately put on hold as Thailand was gripped by surges in coronavirus instances. It arrived in July, once the danger from the virus slipped, and ever since that time has been spearheaded by pupils and researched on social networking.
Even the protester’s bill that Prime Minister Prayuth, who as military commander directed a 2014 coup that toppled an elected government, was sentenced to electricity in last year’s overall election because legislation was changed to prefer a pro-military celebration. Protesters say a constitution promulgated under army rule is undemocratic.