Protestors, many holding wands and dressed as wizards, took to the streets in the Thai capital of Bangkok to protest the government and monarchy.
Those in attendance chose to dress as Harry Potter characters as a way to represent what they see as increasing injustices within the Thai government. A military junta has been in power in Thailand since the 2014 coup.
The protestors want the monarchy’s power curbed and demanded change. Anon Nampa, one of the 200 demonstrators at the rally, said the palace was undermining democracy with its power grabs. “Talking about this is not an act to topple the monarchy, but to allow the monarchy to exist in Thai society in the right way and legitimately under a democratic and a constitutional monarchy,” he said.
Student groups also read out demands which included “cancelling and reforming the laws that expand the power of the monarch and that could impinge on democracy where the King is the head of state.”
The demonstrations come with a risk as openly criticising the monarchy in Thailand carries up to a 15-year prison sentence under the country’s strict lèse-majesté laws.
Police at the demonstration did not stop the six speakers from speaking against the monarchy but did say that suspected offences would be investigated. One police officer, Surapong Thammapitak, said: “We cannot yet determine what offences have been committed … Any offences under any laws will be processed for the investigators.”
Thailand’s current monarch, King Rama X, has been on the throne since the death of his father, the beloved King Rama IX in 2016. He and his wife, Queen Suthida spent the majority of the year outside of Thailand. The King resides in a hotel in Germany with his harem while the Queen stays in Switzerland.
King Rama X has assumed more power since he took the throne four years ago when a new constitution gave the King more emergency powers. He has also personally taken control of military units and certain assets.