On Monday, August 10, at least 3000 students gathered at the Thammasat University campus near Bangkok in protest against the Thai government and the monarchy. The protest was the latest and largest in a series of demonstrations aimed at pressuring the government to step down. However, Monday's protest also targeted the Thai monarchy, an unprecedented development, with speakers criticizing the king's wealth, influence, and chronic absence from the country. Security forces are likely to react to this development, as criticism of the monarchy is punishable with prison terms of up to 15 years and is highly divisive in Thai society. Organizers of the protests have announced that a gathering is due to take place on Wednesday, August 12, the Queen Mother's birthday.
Further anti-government protests are likely in Thailand over the near term, as is a heightened security presence around protest sites.
The development comes amid an increase in anti-government protests witnessed in recent weeks. Public opposition has grown against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's over government spending, the dissolution of an opposition party, and many other factors. Counter protests have also been held.
On August 8, student groups officially launched the Free People group, which has grown out of the previous Free Youth movement responsible for much of the recent protest activity. At their inauguration announcement, the Free People group stated they plan to hold another mass rally on August 16, although further details on location and timings have not been given at this stage.
Those in Bangkok and across Thailand are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
Copyright and Disclaimer