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HomeWORLD NEWSThai protesters defy ban, return to streets after police clashes

Thai protesters defy ban, return to streets after police clashes

Thousands of Thai pro-democracy protesters massed in multiple locations across Bangkok Saturday, defying an emergency decree banning gatherings for the third consecutive day after confrontations saw riot police use water cannon on peaceful demonstrators.

Officers dispersed thousands of protestors on Friday night by spraying water laced with blue dye and a chemical agent to mark participants for future legal action.

But the escalation in police tactics has not cowed the burgeoning youth-led protest movement, which is demanding the resignation of a premier first brought to power in a military coup and reform of the kingdom’s powerful monarchy.

One of the pro-democracy movement’s main organising groups called on its supporters to return to the streets on Saturday afternoon.

An hour before the scheduled 4:00 pm (0900 GMT) protest start, the group announced three different locations for rallies — outsmarting authorities that had closed roads to two suspected venues that ended up not being the meeting points.

In the city’s northern Lat Phrao district, hundreds gathered in the middle of a street with helmets and gas masks ready, raising a three-finger salute adopted from the “Hunger Games” films as a symbol by the pro-democracy movement.

Across the Chao Phraya river, nearly a thousand rallied in the western Wongwian Yai district chanting “Long live the people, down with dictatorship!”, while in southeastern Udomsuk a similar show of force brought busy traffic to a standstill.

Operators of both the Skytrain and underground rail networks had shut down services city-wide to prevent protesters from joining.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha extended an emergency decree banning gatherings of more than four people by another month on Friday.

The former army chief, who masterminded a coup in 2014 before being voted into power last year in an election protesters say was rigged in his favour, also rebuffed calls for his resignation.

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