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Asia Minute: Thailand Protestors Facing Charges

AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn
Pro-democracy protesters flashes a three-fingers salute over a plaque which declares "This country belongs to the people" during a protest in Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020.

Police in Thailand are filing charges against more than a dozen individuals following protests this past weekend in Bangkok.

Media reports say thousands of people turned out in the streets of Bangkok this weekend to protest against the government. Exactly how many thousand is not known, but reports from the scene say there were far more demonstrators than police — who numbered more than 8,500, according to the New York Times.

The protests were led by students, who have organized smaller demonstrations in recent months, although the weekend rallies included Thais of all ages. But it’s a 21-year old college student who handed a letter to the royal guard police in Bangkok on Sunday, with demands — including reforms of the monarchy.

She is now one of the protest leaders facing charges.

Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul already faces charges for reading out demands at a university rally last month.

The Bangkok Post reported Tuesday that she’s among those who will be charged with insulting the king — a crime that can lead to 15 years in prison in Thailand.

On Sunday protestors laid a plaque in cement near the palace, where a previous plaque had once marked the shift of Thailand’s absolute monarchy to a constitutional one back in the 1930’s. The new plaque says, “The people have expressed the intention that this country belongs to the people, and not the king.”

By Monday morning, that plaque had been removed.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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