Campus-based Thai protest movement extends reach to streets

BANGKOK (AP) — Anti-government protesters gathered in large numbers in Thailand’s capital on Sunday for a rally that suggested their movement’s strength may extend beyond the college campuses where it had blossomed.

Thousands of people assembled at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument, a traditional venue for political activities, where they heard speeches, watched skits and listened to music.

Hundreds of police were also present, as well as a small contingent of royalists opposed to the protesters.

There was no reliable estimate of the crowd size, though it appeared to be one of the biggest demonstrations in several years. The rally ended after almost eight hours with about two dozen students who are facing arrest joining together on stage to repeat their demands and renew their commitment to the cause of democracy.

They issued a call for the government to take action by next month or face another major protest rally.

The student-led movement had already declared three core demands: holding new elections, amending the constitution and ending the intimidation of critics of the government.