Thai protesters defy ban to call for reforms, PM seeks talks
Thousands of protesters have once again taken to the streets of Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, to continue their call for reforms in the monarchy and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha despite a ban on large gatherings.
"Down with dictatorship" and "reform the monarchy" the marchers chanted as they rallied toward the Victory Monument, Asoke and Tha Phra MRT station in Bangkok, defying a ban on protests for the fourth consecutive day on Sunday.
Police said there were around 10,000 people at Victory Monument alone. An unnamed spokesman said there was no plan to intervene and suppress the protest there.
Demonstrations have persisted despite the arrest of dozens of protesters and their leaders, the use of water cannon and shutdowns on much of Bangkok's metro rail system in a bid to quell over three months of street action.
The protesters called out “Free our friends” as they stood under umbrellas in a rain. Some held up pictures of detained protest leaders.
Police have arrested more than 50 people, including several protest leaders, over the past week.
Human rights groups have also denounced the dozens of arrests and the use of force against peaceful protesters.
Meanwhile, government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said the prime minister is concerned about the spreading protests, adding that he feared they could be used by troublemakers seeking to instigate violence.
"The government wants to talk to find a way out together," Burapachaisri said.
He did not specify with whom the government hoped to speak.
Also on Sunday, demonstrations were being organized in at least 19 other provinces across Thailand.
Protesters moved quickly from point to point, posting different sites for possible demonstrations on social media.