Thousands of anti-government protesters giving 'Hunger Games' salutes defy a ban on mass gatherings in Thailand
Sophia AnkelOct 17, 2020, 14:23 IST
Pro-democracy protests have erupted again in Thailand despite a government emergency decree that has banned large gatherings.
The main symbol used by protesters has been the three-finger salute, similar to the one used in the popular film franchise "The Hunger Games."
The student-led protest movement has been ongoing ever since the country's prime minister, Prayuth Chan-o-cha, was appointed after controversial elections in 2019.
Protesters have since been calling for the government's dissolution and for democratic reforms.
But it's not just the prime minister that people are protesting against. In recent months the demonstrators have also started calling for curbs on the powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
King Vajiralongkorn reportedly fled the country months ago, spending lockdown in a four-star hotel in the Bavarian Alps with an entourage of 20 women. His absence prompted Thai resident to tweet: "Why do we need a king?" over one million times
Protesting against royal reforms is extremely dangerous in Thailand, which has some of the strictest lèse-majesté (to do wrong to majesty) laws in the world.
More than 20 people have been arrested this week, including three protest leaders.
Protesters have also been wearing white ribbons and chanting "Free our friends!" in reference to those detained in the crackdown.
Thousands of people defied the emergency decree hours after it was issued on Thursday, gathering in Bangkok's busy Ratchaprasong intersection.
In response, a large force of police officers in riot gear were sent to the streets to advance on protesters. Although the protest was mainly peaceful, pictures from the scene did show some clashes and a handful of protesters being arrested.
"Like dogs cornered, we are fighting till our deaths," Panupon Jadnok, one of the protest leaders told crowds on Thursday. "We won't fall back. We won't run away. We won't go anywhere."