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Riot police fire water cannon as protesters defy rally ban

October 17, 2020 7:12 am

Thousands of Thais have rallied in Bangkok for the second day to demand political reforms, defying an emergency decree banning such gatherings.

Police used water cannon to disperse the mostly young activists, who tried to push back with umbrellas. A few threw plastic water bottles.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha warned a curfew might be imposed, rejecting calls for him to resign.

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Protesters are also demanding reforms to Thailand’s powerful monarchy.

The government had attempted to curtail the student-led protest movement yesterday

Several key protest leaders were among those arrested, including human rights lawyer Anon Nampa, student activist Parit Chiwarak – widely known by his nickname “Penguin” – and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

Mass protests began by calling for the resignation of Mr Prayuth – a former army chief who seized power in a 2014 coup and was appointed premier after controversial elections last year.

The rallies have now expanded to demand curbs on the powers of the king.

The calls for royal reforms are particularly sensitive in Thailand, where criticism of the monarchy is punishable by long prison sentences.by issuing the emergency decree, banning gatherings of more than four people and arresting about 20 activists.

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