Protest greets fourth year of Thai junta rule

Published May 22, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

By (AFP)

Bangkok – Thai police blocked anti-junta protesters from marching to Government House on Tuesday to mark four years of military rule, one of the largest acts of dissent since the army grabbed power.

Hundreds of student activists and middle-aged ‘Red Shirt’ supporters of the toppled civilian government wielded banners, Thai flags and fans with a cartoon of the premier mocked-up as ”Pinocchio,” as they massed at a police blockade obstructing their progress to the seat of government in Bangkok.    Disquiet with the junta is simmering in Thailand, despite a ban on political gatherings since a coup toppled the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra on May 22, 2014.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who as army chief booted Yingluck’s administration from power, has suggested elections will be held in February next year.

But the timetable for a return to democracy has frequently slipped and patience with his junta is wearing thin among many sections of Thai society.

”It is the four-year anniversary of the coup and I think now is the time to change,” said Rangsiman Rome, one of the protest leaders.

“We don’t want to protest. It’s hot, it’s tiring. But we have no choice to make them listen to us.”