Thousands of people march for monarchy reform as Thailand preps for reopening

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Thousands of opposition to democratization gathered in downtown Bangkok on Sunday (October 31st). Thailand is preparing to welcome more tourists, so Covid19’s restraint on mass rallies and Prayut Chan-o called on Prime Minister Chanocha to stop the street protests.
Sunday protesters called for the abolition of the monarchy or the blasphemy law, which criminalizes insulting Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code. Since last year, student protests have also called for Mr. Prayut to resign due to constitutional amendments and monarchy reforms.
“We are protesting today to have 112 repealed. We are unable to exercise our right to free speech as a result of this law. “We can’t talk about the monarchy’s faults or how it may change,” says Panusaya “Rung,” a major protest leader “On the margins of the rally, Sithijirawattanakul spoke to The Straits Times.
On the eve of Thailand’s big reopening to tourists, Sunday’s protest brought a carnival-like atmosphere to the retail belt at Ratchaprasong with food, drink, and music. Vaccinated travelers from more than 60 nations and territories can visit Thailand starting Monday without going through quarantine. “We didn’t design this on purpose,” Panusaya remarked, referring to the protest’s timing.
“However, even if we do not demonstrate, people will be able to witness how our country has deteriorated under this administration.” The reopening represents a lifeline for Thailand’s travel and tourist industry, which accounted for over a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product.
The sector has been devastated by strict border controls for more than a year to combat the Covid-19 outbreak. According to Thai Airport President Nitinai Sirisumata Khan, about 7,000 international flights will arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Monday.
Protesters’ Call for monarchy reform and the abolition of Article 112 is not new. Still, tensions have increased over the application of the law following a series of arrests and allegations against student protesters.
According to Thai human rights lawyers, at least 145 people are currently facing section 112 allegations.

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