“Down with feudalism! Long live the people! ”Was one of the chants at the largest demonstration in Bangkok since Prayuth took power in 2014.
Protests have been taking place in the Asian country since July, with people demanding the removal of the government, a new constitution and elections. They broke a taboo and criticized the monarchy of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Saturday’s protests moved from the Thammasat University campus, a ground for opposition from the military and royal leadership, to Sanam Luang in front of the Grand Palace.
“I hope the people in power see the importance of the people,” student leader Panupong “Mike” Jadnok told the crowd. “We are fighting to put the monarchy in its place, not to abolish it.”
Organizers said 50,000 people were present at the demonstration, and police said there were 18,000 people.
Protesters said they plan to stay overnight and march to the government headquarters on Sunday morning.
The king is not in Thailand and has spent much time in Europe since taking over the throne from his father in 2016. The Royal Palace has not been available to comment on events.
“People can protest, but they must do so peacefully within the law,” said government spokeswoman Anucha Burapachaisri.
September 19 marked the 14th anniversary of the coup, after which populist Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra lost power. His supporters were among his protesters on Saturday.
Prayuth said the government would allow the protests, but demands to reform the monarchy were not acceptable.
The protesters demand the amendment of the law, the reduction of the king’s constitutional powers and his control over the palace’s wealth and over the armed units.
Demonstrations in support of the one in Bangkok have also taken place in Taipei and Tokyo, and others are planned to take place in Europe and North America.