Thailand Curtails Mass Transit as Protesters Defy Gathering Ban  10/17/2020 14:57:00   Feliz Solomon in Singapore and Wilawan Watcharasakwet in Bangkok

Photo: soe zeya tun/Reuters

Authorities in Thailand shut down almost all mass rail transit in the capital of Bangkok as thousands of antigovernment protesters took to the streets, defying a ban on large public gatherings for the third consecutive day.

A mass demonstration initially planned for a single location on Saturday was rerouted to the sites of three transit stations throughout the city center, with protesters chanting Prayuth get out, a reference to the prime minister, and flashing a three-finger gesture that has become a symbol of resistance in the country.

Protests against the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha that began earlier this year gained momentum this week as authorities escalated efforts to put an end to the movement. The government issued an emergency decree Thursday banning gatherings of more than five people.

More than 12,000 people joined a demonstration in defiance of the order later that day, according to police estimates, and organizers called for continued protests. They have largely rallied behind three core demands: a dissolution of the government, a new constitution and an end to the harassment of government critics.

Mr. Prayuth, a former army chief, led a coup in 2014 and presided over a junta government for nearly five years before calling elections last year that made him an elected leader. The polls were marred by allegations from opposition leaders and pro-democracy activists that the electoral process favored the military-backed party.

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