Thousands in Thailand Continue Protests in Defiance of Crackdown

Thousands of protesters were in the streets of Bangkok, Thailand, again Saturday in defiance of a government crackdown as they continue to push for the ouster of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.  
Unlike Friday’s protests, when police used water cannons to disperse thousands of protesters that included children, Saturday’s demonstrations were peaceful.
Activists managed to stage a fourth consecutive day of protests, despite government efforts to thwart them through a variety of actions, including shutting down Bangkok’s mass transit systems.
Saturday’s protests, which were also held in at least six cities outside Bangkok, got underway despite Prayuth’s declaration of a state of emergency Thursday that banned all political gatherings of five or more people and made all protesters subject to arrest.
Many protesters said they were inspired to take action Saturday by the police use of water cannons.  
In the past week, police have arrested more than 50 people — including several protest leaders.
The Royal Palace has not commented on the protests, but King Maha Vajiralongkorn has said the country needs people who love the monarchy and the country.   
Pro-democracy activists began demonstrating three months ago to force the resignation of Prayuth, a former army general who seized power in a 2014 coup that ousted the elected civilian government. He won election to the post last year, but protesters say the vote was rigged in his favor due to constitutional laws drafted by the military.   
In addition to demanding reform of the country’s constitution, the demonstrators are seeking to reduce the influence of the Thai monarchy. The institution maintains divine-like status among Thailand’s elite, and it is protected by strict “lese majeste” laws that impose prison sentences on anyone convicted of insulting the monarchy. 

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