‘No absolute monarchy’: Thousands of Thais march for royal reforms

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Thousands of Thai people took to the streets of the capital on Sunday demanding reform of the monarchy, defying the court’s ruling that such demands are a veiled attempt to overthrow the institution.

The youth-led protests, which began last year by calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, 66, a former coup leader, have become the biggest challenge to the monarchy in decades, which is constitutionally enshrined in “reverend worship”. Is. ,

Protesters marched against lines of riot police behind shields, waving placards that read “no absolute monarchy” and “reform is not abolition”.

“The king’s increased powers in recent years are pulling Thailand away from democracy and towards absolute monarchy,” one protester read in a statement after the demonstration at the German embassy in Bangkok.

“It is a fight to insist that this country should be ruled by a system in which all are equal. “Protesters marched to the German embassy in October last year and urged Germany to investigate whether King Maha Vajiralongkorn, who spends most of his time in the country, was doing state business from there.

Piya, a protester with 25-year-old Ploysuvan, said, “The word ‘reform’ does not equate to eradication. You (officers) only want to do what you want and see people with opposing views as bad people.. . If society continues like this, how can we move forward?”

The protests have broken long-standing taboos in Thailand, whose less principled law carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years for those convicted of defaming the monarchy.

Since the protests began last year, at least 157 people have been charged under the law, according to records compiled by the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group.

Sunday’s protest came in response to a Constitutional Court ruling last week that calls for reform of the monarchy by three protest leaders in August last year were unconstitutional and designed to topple the institution.

Three protesters were injured on Sunday, a police spokesman said, adding that the incidents were being investigated.

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