Thousands join Bangkok’s biggest protest since 2014 coup

Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, above, has emerged as the most outspoken opponent of the government headed by former military ruler Prayuth Chan-ocha. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 14 December 2019

Thousands join Bangkok’s biggest protest since 2014 coup

  • The demonstration was called a day earlier by Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit
  • Thanathorn has emerged as the most outspoken opponent of the current government

BANGKOK: Thousands of people joined Bangkok’s biggest protest since a 2014 coup on Saturday, after authorities in Thailand moved to ban a party that has rallied opposition to the government of former military ruler Prayuth Chan-ocha.
The demonstration, called a day earlier by Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a 41-year-old billionaire, revived memories of the spasms of street protest that have roiled Bangkok periodically over the past two decades of turbulent politics.
But there was no sign of a major police presence or attempt to block the biggest demonstration since Prayuth seized power in 2014 in the name of ending street violence.
“This is just the beginning,” Thanathorn told the cheering crowd that spilled across walkways and stairways close to the MBK Center, in the heart of Bangkok’s shopping and business district.
“Today is a show of strength so that in future others may join us. We’re just here today as a test run. Prayuth, don’t be afraid yet. The real thing is next month.”
Thanathorn has emerged as the most outspoken opponent of the government headed by Prayuth, 65, since an election in March that the opposition said were manipulated to favor the army.
Thailand’s election panel has asked the Constitutional Court to dissolve the Future Forward Party, accusing it of infringing laws governing political parties by accepting multi-million dollar loans from Thanathorn.
Last month, the Constitutional Court found Thanathorn guilty of holding shares in a media company on the date his candidacy was registered for the election, disqualifying him as a member of parliament. Thanathorn disputed the ruling.
At the protest, demonstrators chanted “Long live democracy, dictatorship get out.”
Thanathorn earlier signed an agreement with six parties in an opposition alliance to push for changes to the constitution that was drawn up by the junta before the election.
He also won their support for the protest.
Among those parties was Pheu Thai, which won the most seats in the 500-member House of Representatives lower house but has taken a lower profile in challenging the government than Future Forward, which came third in the election.
Palang Pracharat, the pro-military party formed last year by members of the junta’s cabinet, came second. Prayuth told reporters on Friday it was inappropriate to organize a demonstration toward the end of the year.


Eight monks catch virus at remote Greek Orthodox site

Updated 21 September 2020

Eight monks catch virus at remote Greek Orthodox site

  • Mount Athos, a 1,000-year-old site and one of the Orthodox Church’s most venerated places, has 20 monasteries and almost 1,700 monks
  • The community, known for its austere rules, is almost completely isolated in a mountainous nature reserve in the Macedonia region

ATHENS: Eight monks have tested positive for coronavirus and their monastery in a remote Orthodox Christian community in northern Greece has been quarantined, a Church official said on Monday.
One of the monks was taken to hospital in Thessaloniki in a serious condition, said the official who declined to be named.
It is not the first outbreak at the Mount Athos site — four monks tested positive in March after traveling to Britain but recovered quickly.
Mount Athos, a 1,000-year-old site and one of the Orthodox Church’s most venerated places, has 20 monasteries and almost 1,700 monks.
The community, known for its austere rules, is almost completely isolated in a mountainous nature reserve in the Macedonia region.
The country’s lockdown from March to May hit the Church hard, wrecking its Easter celebrations.
Church leaders disputed some of the science behind the confinement rules — agreeing to halt masses but refusing to ban communion.
Greece has so far registered 338 deaths and more than 15,000 infections from the virus.