Unexpectedly large crowd of protesters gather at Ratchaprasong intersection

Anti-establishment protesters gathered at the Ratchaprasong commercial centre in the heart of Bangkok this evening to hear speakers lambast Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, demand the abolition of lèse majesté law and the release of all the Ratsadon leaders and followers being held on remand.

One of the speakers, Yingcheep Atchanont, manager of the non-profit organization iLaw, told the protesters that the priority for the Thai people must be to abolish the lèse majesté law, or Section 112 of the Criminal Code which, he claimed, has caused frustration among the police and public prosecutors.

He claimed that Section 112 does not reflect Thai identity or Thai culture, because it was amended by the junta in 1976 to increase the penalties, adding that the police and prosecutors are reluctant to free suspects charged with lèse majesté, although they are fully aware that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty.

Yingcheep said he hopes that there will be at least one judge who is brave enough to grant bail for those charged with lèse majesté. He ended his speech with a call for the abolition of the law, which was greeted with resounding calls of “Abolish 112” from the crowd.

Another speaker, Attapon Buapat, alias Khru Yai, read out a long list of mistakes, which he alleges Prime Minister Prayut Cha-o-cha has made, dating back to his leading of the coup about six years ago. The protesters responded with the three-finger salute and thunderous shouts of “Down with dictatorship, long live the people”.

Former Thai ambassador to Mozambique who currently run “The Alternative Ambassador” facebook page, Rat Chaleechan, was also at the protest tonight. he said he was surprised at the size of the crowd, despite the fact that the protesters were give only short notice of the location.

 

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)