A protest movement started by students in Thailand in July has escalated in recent weeks, igniting a national call for a new constitution that reached a fever pitch over the weekend.
Call for change: Defying government warnings, tens of thousands of protesters have been participating in daily demonstrations in Bangkok and other cities since last Wednesday to amplify their pro-democracy demands to curb the power of King Maha Vajiralongkorn, CNN reported.
- Among the protesters’ main demands include a constitution drafted by representatives of the people, monarchy reforms, and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his government.
- In an attempt to quell the protests, the Thai government announced an emergency decree banning public gatherings of over five people.
- Two activists are reportedly facing a possible life sentence on charges of attempting violence against the Queen after allegedly obstructing her motorcade.
- Despite multiple arrests made under the ban, it has so far failed to stop the protesters.
- On Sunday, about 10,000 people surrounded Bangkok’s Victory Monument and thousands more in different cities across the country.
- The emergency decree also includes a nationwide ban on publishing and broadcasting news and information that “incites fear among the public.”
- Mary Lawlor, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights defenders, said the political crisis in Thailand has become alarming.
I’m alarmed by reports this week from #Thailand of arrests & detentions & the use of draconian criminal charges against Human Rights Defenders exercising their rights to assemble peacefully & to express their views
— Mary Lawlor UN Special Rapporteur HRDs (@MaryLawlorhrds) October 18, 2020
“Protect the monarchy”: On Monday, Prayut told reporters that the government has been doing its best to compromise but noted that it is prepared to protect the monarchy, Rappler reported via Agence France-Presse.
- “The thing the government must do is to protect the monarchy,” he said. “This is the duty for all Thai citizens to perform.”
- According to Prayut, he supports an emergency session by the parliament to resolve the current political crisis, and cabinet members may start discussing an urgent parliamentary meeting on Tuesday.
- The authorities have also ordered Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission to investigate four local media outlets for their alleged violation of the emergency decree over their protest coverage.
- An order calling for blocking access to Voice TV, The Reporters, The Standard, Prachatai, and Free Youth, and the removal of their existing content, was leaked on social media, the Washington Post reported.
- In a statement released on social media, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand condemned the new decree, saying it “vaguely defined” the parameters of allowed news coverage.
- Expressing concerns on possible arrests of journalists who were doing their jobs, the FCCT further “urges the authorities to respect the role and responsibilities of all media in Thailand.”
In light of the recent protests in Thailand, please read our statement on the safety of journalists below. pic.twitter.com/LBCIa3jS4o
— FCCThai (@FCCThai) October 18, 2020
Featured Image Screenshot via AFP