Anti-government demonstrators in Thailand have protested their powerful monarch’s personal control over certain military units and criticized the role of the army in the Southeast Asian country’s politics.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in central capital Bangkok on Sunday to march to the 11th Infantry Regiment, one of the two units that were moved under the King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s command in 2019.
Peaceful pro-democracy protests in Thailand have been growing since July. Police used water canons against them, injuring 55 in November. Police must not use unlawful force. pic.twitter.com/dre2gFQ3sV— Amnesty International USA (@amnestyusa) November 22, 2020
In open defiance of the king, the protesters accused the monarchy of enabling decades of military domination and the involvement of army officials in political decisions.
“An army should belong to the people, not the king,” Parit Chiwarak, one of the protest leaders, told reporters. “In a democratic system, the king is not responsible for directing command of the military.”
Parit is among several protest organizers that already face charges over insulting the monarchy during his speeches at previous rallies.
Criticism of the monarchy can be punished with 15 years in jail under Thailand’s constitutional laws.
The latest rally came a few days after thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in the Thai capital, calling on the country’s monarch to relinquish control of royal funds worth tens of billions of dollars, despite an escalated crackdown on protests.
Protesters accused the king of wasting taxpayers’ money and said the monarchy's private wealth should be separated from the crown funds.
The protests, which began across Thailand in July, initially targeted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha but later called for the monarch to be more transparently accountable under the constitution and for the reversal of changes that gave the current king personal control of the royal fortune and some military units.
Dozens of protesters, including many of the most prominent protest leaders, have been arrested on a variety of charges in recent months.
Prayuth has rejected demands that he quit along with their accusations that he engineered last year’s election to keep power that he first took from an elected government in 2014.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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