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Thai Protesters Demand Drastic Changes in Political System

Anti-government protesters raise a three-finger salute, a resistance symbol borrowed by Thailand's anti-coup movement from the Hollywood movie 'The Hunger Games,' during a protest in front of Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand, Aug, 7, 2020.

Protesters in Thailand are pressing on with their demands for the dissolution of parliament, new elections and changing the constitution.

Leaders said Friday they would step up pressure on the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha if it failed to act on changes.

"(Our demands) are clear enough for the government to hear and follow,” said protest leader Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree. “To set up a committee to have hearings is like an act. It's like a show with no meaning. Is it to buy time? They think that we will disappear. They believe that we will fade away. So, they set up this committee to buy time. But the fact is we want real change. We want to send our demands to those with powers to make decisions, not to some rubber stamp committee."

Meeting in front of Bangkok's iconic Democracy Monument, eight leaders of the Free People Movement, formerly known as Free Youth, announced plans for a big rally on August 16.

Protesters held signs reading: "Constitution needed to be amended. Democracy must come from the people" and "We don't hate our nation. We hate dictatorship. No coup."

Prayuth said early this week he will consider protester’s demands, but protest leader Tattep suggested the premier’s statement was just a delaying tactic, as the prime minister is unlikely to agree to dissolve parliament or call new elections.

After more than five years of relative calm since a military coup in 2014, anti-government protests have erupted again, mostly on school and university campuses in the capital Bangkok and other Thai cities.

Protesters, majority of them young people, are highly dissatisfied with the current administration.

A former army chief, Prayuth first took power in 2014, then held a tight grip on it through the 2019 elections, widely seen as manipulated in his favor.