A massive crowd of pro-democracy activists gathered again in the Thai capital Bangkok on Thursday in mass insolence of the government which had passed a decree prohibiting protests.
The protests were peaceful, ultimately clearing out after several hours at a new 6 pm curfew.
They demanded the discharge of at least 20 activists detained on Thursday in a clampdown by police.
Many showed the three-finger salute representing the protest movement.
In the initial hours of Thursday morning, the government tried to restrain the student-led protest movement by dispensing an emergency decree restricting gatherings of over four people and detaining about 20 activists – totaling the arrests to 40 this week.
Human rights lawyer Anon Nampa, student activist Parit Chiwarak – also known by his nickname “Penguin” – and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul were among the main people who were arrested.
In an extensively streamed live video, officers were reading out indictments to Ms Panusaya in a hotel room. Another video presented police putting her into a car as she and her backers intoned slogans.
The resignation of the PM Prayuth Chan-Ocha is one of the key demands of the people. He was army chief and conquered in a 2014 coup. He was appointed premier after scandalous elections last year and has worked towards restricting the power of the king since then.
The demands for royal reforms are specifically delicate in Thailand, where criticism of the monarchy is considered an offence with long prison sentences.
Appeals for dispersion were made to the crowd by the police officials by an 18:00 curfew.
Starting of the protests
When Anon Nampa, a deceivingly mild-looking lawyer, first necessitated an honest conversation about the monarchy, on 3 August, the country was astonished at his bold act. When Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul conveyed the 10 demands for royal reform and liability from a university stage a week later, Thailand steadied itself for a repercussion. This was same as profanity as Thailand is a country where every constitution requires the king to “be held in a position of revered worship.”
To their surprise, they did not face any recoil as the country was already under a lot of stress due to several challenged and they did not want to infuriate the public anymore.
But the tenacity of large-scale rallies, where demonstrators derided the royal institution, could not be endured any longer, particularly now that the king had come back to Thailand for a prolonged stay.
Political unrest and protests are in engraved in the history of the country. After a famous opposition party was directed to be disbanded in February, the protests saw a new phase.
With the backing of the military, Prayuth Chan-ocha was re-installed as prime minister. The pro-democracy Future Forward Party (FFP), with its alluring leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, was successful in securing the third-largest portion of seats and was especially famous among young, first-time voters.
In February, the court ruled that the party had obtained a loan from Thanathorn which was illegal as it was seen as a donation. Consequently, the party was dispersed leading to the protests on the streets.