Thailand Protests Escalate As Demonstrators Challenge The Monarchy

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Thousands of demonstrators publicly questioned the rule of Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn and marched in Bangkok for a second day in a row demanding calls for reforms to limit his rule.

Protesters grew bolder during two months of demonstrations calling for reform of the monarchy and the removal of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, a former leader of the military, and a new constitution and electoral institutions.

Criticism of the monarchy has long been a taboo and illegal under His Majesty’s laws. The king was not in Thailand and the Grand Palace did not immediately speak up.

The protesters were blocked by hundreds of unarmed police officers with obstacles to control the crowd, but the protesters declared victory after saying Royal Guard police had agreed to submit their demands to police headquarters.

Protesters announced on Sunday that they would take to the streets again on Thursday and hold a major strike on October 14, the anniversary of the 1973 student uprising.

Shortly after sunrise on Sunday, protesters pasted a plaque near the Grand Palace in Bangkok in an area known as Sanam Luang, or the Royal Field.

“At this place, the people have expressed their will: That this country belongs to the people and is not the property of the monarch as they have deceived us,” the plaque read.

The police didn’t intervene. Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said police would not use force against protesters and police had to identify and prosecute illegal speeches.

A similar plaque was removed from outside one of the royal palaces in 2017 without explanation after Vajiralongkorn ascended the throne.

This plaque, which marked the end of absolute monarchy in 1932, has been replaced by a pro-monarchy slogan.

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