Protesters, police clash in Bangkok

·2-min read

Pro-democracy protesters in Bangkok, Thailand have clashed with police while seeking the release of four comrades awaiting trial on charges of defaming the monarchy.

The four top leaders of the student-led movement were ordered to stay in custody on Tuesday on the so-called lese majeste charge, which carries a punishment of three to 15 years in prison. They were also charged with sedition.

The protest movement campaigned last year for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his government to step down, the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic and the monarchy reformed to make it more accountable.

The demand about the monarchy is the most controversial, because the institution has been widely considered an untouchable, bedrock element of Thai nationalism.

Police deputy spokesman Krissana Pattanacharoen said more than 20 police were injured and seven or eight protesters detained on Saturday. There was no information on the number of protesters hurt when they tried to breach heavily defended police lines.

The protest began at Bangkok's Democracy Monument, where participants were urged to write their wishes for Thailand's future on a big red cloth that was wrapped around the structure as those present sang the national anthem.

Members of the crowd of about 1000 also removed plants that had been placed around the monument, alleging they had been put there last week to deny space for protesting.

The protesters then tried to march to the Bangkok City Pillar Shrine, the capital's symbolic spiritual centre, which is treated as the protector of the country and the monarchy.

At least 100 police in riot gear backed up by two water cannon trucks blocked their path.

After the four protest representatives returned from the shrine, organisers declared an end to the rally and the crowd began to disperse.