Thailand: Students press demands

  • An anti-government group has said it will stick to its original demands while at least 10,000 protesters rallied at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok on 16 Aug 20, in what appeared to be the largest demonstration against the government since Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed.
  • Thatthep Ruangprapaikitseree, the leader of the Free People group — the new name of the Free Youth group — announced on 16 Aug 20 that the group will stand by its three demands.
  • In a statement released on 16 Aug 20, the group called on the government to stop harassing individuals who are exercising their rights in accordance with democratic principles and set up a charter-drafting body to come up with a new constitution based on the will of the people.
  • The group also urged the government to dissolve parliament to allow the people to exert their right to elect their own representatives, by amending Section 269 and 272 of the constitution.
  • The move comes after a group of Thammasat University students expanded their demands to include reform of the monarchy in the week of 10 Aug 20.
  • The number of participants at the 16 Aug 20 rally differs from source to source, with rally organisers saying between 20,000-30,000 people attended.
  • However, the MPB estimated the number of anti-government protesters to be about 12,000.
  • Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Cha-o-cha has called for authorities deployed to secure the protest to exercise restraint and avoid infringing on the rights of the demonstrators. No arrests were reported at the event.

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