Massive student-led protest asks govt to quit

Pro-democracy protesters use mobile phones as torches as they attend a huge anti-government rally at Democracy Monument in Bangkok. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
Pro-democracy protesters use mobile phones as torches as they attend a huge anti-government rally at Democracy Monument in Bangkok. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

More than 12,000 student-led protesters gathered at Bangkok's Democracy Monument on Sunday to ask the government to quit.

The peaceful but high-spirited rally began on Sunday afternoon and by evening covered an area stretching from the Democracy Monument roundabout, where activists and comedians spoke from a stage, to beyond Khok Wua intersection in the direction of Sanam Luang.

The Metropolitan Police Bureau put the crowd at 12,000 at around 7pm, while organisers claimed more than 20,000 were calling for a restoration of full democracy.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has pleaded for calm and patience from security authorities deployed at the rally site, while a small group of pro-royalist agitators left the area to avoid confrontation.

Speakers at the rally held by the student-led Free People group reaffirmed their three demands: the dissolution of the House, the writing of a new constitution and an end to harassment of government critics.

The organisers  read out a statement near the end of the protest repeating the three demands. They also reiterated their opposition to a coup or the formation of a "national unity" government to end the political impasse.

They said their protests have expanded beyond students to include a wide cross-section of the population. "Free People is now not limited only to students, but also includes people from different aspects of society, ranging from artists and labourers to people from all walks of life," it said.

Trakul Meechai, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, told Thai PBS the government and Parliament should hold an urgent meeting to address their calls and make clear their positions on the demands.

The new round of anti-government protests started on July 18 before spreading into several provinces, particularly at school and university campuses.

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  • activists (noun): people who take part in activities that are intended to achieve political or social change, especially someone who is a member of an organisation - นักกิจกรรม
  • agitate: take action to cause people to protest -
  • confrontation: a situation in which people or groups are arguing angrily or are fighting - การเผชิญหน้า
  • constitution: the set of laws and basic principles that a country in governed by - รัฐธรรมนูญ
  • coup: the seizure of power in a country by a group of people, usually members of the armed forces - รัฐประหาร
  • dissolution of the lower house: formally end the House of Representatives, usually leading to a general election - การยุบสภา
  • harassment: annoying or worrying somebody by putting pressure on them or saying or doing unpleasant things to them - การข่มขู่, การรบกวน, การก่อกวน
  • impasse: a situation in which progress is not possible because none of the people involved are willing to change their decision - ทางตัน
  • patience: the ability to wait for a long time without becoming angry or upset - ความอดทน
  • plead: to ask for something in an emotional way - ขอร้อง, วิงวอน
  • reiterate: to repeat something in order to emphasise it - พูดซ้ำ ย้ำ
  • restoration (noun): a return to a previous state or condition - การกลับสู่สภาพปกติ
  • spirited: full of energy, determination or courage - ซึ่งมุ่งมั่น, ซึ่งมีชีวิตชีวา
  • walks of life: the different jobs or ways of life of people in society -

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