Thailand announces emergency law amid protests

Thailand announces emergency law to contain rising pro-democracy protests.

The Thailand government announced a ban on gatherings of more than five people. The announcement was made on television by the police. It addresses the protesters to maintain peace and order.

Late on Wednesday evening, Oct. 14, protesters started marching from the city’s Democracy Monument and ended in front of the Prime Minister office. The student-led protests call out the resignation of the prime minister.

The decree came into effect in Bangkok, starting from 4 A.M. on Thursday (October 15). The enforcement comes in hours after thousands of protesters stormed the police barricades and camped outside Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s office.

The rising pro-democracy protests in Thailand

The decree issued by the officials read:

“As it has appeared that there have been several groups inviting, inciting and committing illegal assembly.”

The statement further describes that the activities caused by the students are disrupting public peace and order. So far, the police have arrested 20 individuals concerning the protests.

The arrested individuals included prominent protest leaders like Anon Nampa, student activist Parit Chiwarak, and a rising leader Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.

Lese majeste law and taboos

Thailand is known for its strict Lese Majeste Laws. It prohibits the citizens from speaking openly about the King, Queen, or anyone of the heirs.

Individuals, if found violating the law, can be imprisoned for 15 years. It is also considered illegal to step in the currency notes if the king’s face is printed.

Following the massive arrests, huge crowds gathered around the king’s presence as he stepped out to perform a memorial service to his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The protesters shouted, release our friends and made a three-finger salute as the king’s convoy passed in front of them.

Previously in August, Anon was the first to openly speak about the country’s monarchy, which is considered taboo.

Fixing the electoral laws accordingly

Later in the same month, Panusaya delivered 10 points of demand to reform the monarchy. She is a spokesperson for a student union group called United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration.

The demands primarily included abolishing royal offices, a new constitution, disbanding the king’s royal guards, revoking the laws against defaming the monarchy, and more.

The Future Forward Party is widely popular with first-time voters. It gathers the third-largest share in the parliamentary election that year. For the time being, the party faced a controversial defeat against Prayut’s government.

The students raised protests and accused the prime minister of fixing the electoral laws in his favor. The matter was further strengthened after a prominent pro-democracy activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit went missing in Cambodia this June.

Wanchalearm has been in exile since the 2014 military riots. To date, his whereabouts are still unknown, and the protesters accused the government of kidnaping him.

Image courtesy of ME Image/Shutterstock

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