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Thai Protesters Defy Ban on Large Gatherings

Thousands of demonstrators continued to protest Thailand’s prime minister in Bangkok Sunday, defying a ban on gatherings of more than four people.

Protests, largely led by students, have persisted in the capital for months, calling for the resignation of Prayuth Chan-O-Cha, who seized power in a 2014 military coup.

Demonstrations also were held in 18 cities around Thailand, the Bangkok Post reported.

The movement suffered multiple setbacks over the past week, with dozens arrested after they flashed a pro-Democracy salute at the Thai queen’s motorcade. Authorities used water cannon to disperse crowds outside Bangkok’s central shopping district Friday, sparking outrage across the country.

Emergency measures were put in place over the weekend to ban gatherings of more than four people, but protests have persisted.

Demonstrators gathered near Bangkok’s Victory Monument Sunday, carrying signs and photos of those who were arrested. Protests were largely peaceful, but some reported that, upon trying to return home, they were barred from entering the central Asok sky train station. BTS Sky Train later confirmed that all its stations had been reopened.

Prayuth won an election 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 institution.