Thailand: Protesters take to Bangkok streets despite warning

  • Thailand: Protesters take to Bangkok streets despite warning

Thailand: Protesters take to Bangkok streets despite warning

Bangkok is now under the Severe State of Emergency imposed by PM Prayut on Thursday, giving the security officers a broad power to ban gatherings, close down areas, search individuals without warrants, and censor any media coverage deemed to cause unrest. Protesters also want a new Constitution to replace one drafted under military rule.

Thousands of Thais joined protests that popped up across Bangkok on Saturday in defiance of a crackdown on three months of demonstrations aimed at the government and the powerful monarchy.

"I'm not quitting", Mr Prayut told reporters after an emergency Cabinet meeting.

Pre-recorded comments from King Vajiralongkorn were broadcast on state television on Friday, with the king still not making any direct comments on the protests. "These are our children, our future generation, who have come to express their opinions with the aim of seeing our country move forward in the right direction", the statement read.

Authorities shut down the city's mass transit systems and set up roadblocks as they braced for a fourth straight day of protests.

Eyewitness footage from the scene shows large deployments of heavily armed riot police throughout the city, as well as water cannons being used to disperse the demonstrators. The only specific incident cited by the government for the imposition of emergency measures was one in which Queen Suthida's motorcade was jeered by protesters, but it also said the protests were damaging the economy and national security.

Earlier on Friday two activists were arrested under a rarely-used law banning violence against the queen.

Both men could face life in prison if convicted.

It is not clear why the pair were singled out.

The protesters have been doing their best to elude the authorities, using social media to assemble followers before police have time to block them.

The youth-led movement has jolted the kingdom's political elite with its demands for the government to step down and reforms of the previously unassailable monarchy.

His lawyer, Krisadang Nutcharut, said Mr Anon had been refused bail and was being held in Chiang Mai prison.

"Keep on fighting! My freedom is a very small issue compared to the entire struggle for democracy", Anon posted on Facebook late on Thursday.

"Pheu Thai Party calls on General Prayuth Chan-ocha and the state officials to lift the emergency decree and to stop intimidating the people in all manners and to release those who were arrested immediately", said the party, which has the most seats in parliament.

Thailand's modern political history is dotted with periods of violent civil unrest and more than a dozen military coups, the most recent of which brought Prayut to power in 2014.

Pro-democracy demonstrators gather during a protest, in Bangkok, Thailand October 17, 2020.

"The king has left the people unattended, especially during this time of difficulties when the when the world and including Thailand are having to go through COVID-19", Chachavalpongpun said.