Anti-government protesters rallied during the weekend in the Bangkok, calling on the country’s military rulers to give up power and hold elections they promised soon after staging the coup in 2014.
The demonstration was one of the largest in recent years and reflected demonstrators’ renewed confidence as the ruling junta’s prestige has slipped due to corruption scandals and political sleight-of-hand.
“Stop holding on to power. Stop delaying an election,” read a sign held by one protester, reflecting the main theme of the rally.
The protesters gathered near Bangkok’s Democracy Monument, a traditional venue for political activity, but were kept across the street by more than 100 policemen who kept watch on their nonviolent demonstration.
More than three dozen pro-democracy activists face criminal charges for their protest late last month, but many apparently attended Saturday’s rally.
“It is very clear that regardless of the fear tactics and intimidation and baseless charges that the government slapped on protesters, they remain defiant and relentless in expressing their rights and their freedom peacefully,” said Sunai Pasuk, a researcher in Thailand for the New York-based group Human Right Watch. “Their campaign is very clear that they are reminding those in power of their own promises to hold an election by the end of this year and returning Thailand to democracy.”
Both Saturday’s and last month’s protests were spearheaded by students whose dedication to nonviolent tactics and fearlessness in the face of threats of jail has made them a small but persistent thorn in the side of the government for the past few years. However, their actions have so far failed to inspire a mass following.