By Vatican News
Protesters want change in Thailand. They are calling for the government’s resignation, a new constitution and fresh elections.
Over the past few weeks there have been daily demonstrations in Bangkok led by student groups. However, Sunday’s protest was the biggest since a 2014 coup.
The message from the street is clear. Demonstrators are demanding that the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha – who won disputed elections in 2019 - step down.
They want constitutional reform and for an end to the harassment of opposition activists.
But students are also turning their attention to the monarchy there. They are calling for its reform, including a curb on the current King’s constitutional powers, and an end to the monarchy's role in politics, although there is no appetite for abolishing it.
Anti-government protests first began late last year after courts banned the opposition Future Forward party, which opposed the current government.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the protests were mainly online based, but by July student groups were back on the streets.
The disappearance of a Thai anti-government activist in Cambodia, the latest of nine to go missing in recent years, has also fueled tensions.
Three student protest leaders have already been arrested and released on bail on charges over earlier protests. Police have also issued arrest warrants for a further 12 activists.
The government has said people have the right to protest, and the Prime Minister said he is seeking dialogue with demonstrators.
He also said the king has requested him not to use what are known as the “lese majeste laws” that can result in up to 15 years in prison for anyone criticizing the monarchy.