Thailand has decided to ban gatherings of five or more people and online publications that could harm national security. This measure aims to put an end to “illegal” pro-democracy protests, authorities said on Thursday.
An emergency decree was issued “banning gatherings of five or more people” and “certain electronic messages,” a government spokesperson said in a statement.
On Wednesday, a new demonstration to demand the dismissal of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha brought together several thousand people in front of the Government House in Bangkok.
Shortly after the emergency decree came into effect, Thursday at 4 a.m. (11 p.m. in Switzerland), riot police evacuated protesters who were still camping at the site. Most of the protesters had already left the scene.
The pro-democracy movement that has marched since the summer is calling for the departure of the Prime Minister, General Prayut Chan-O-Cha, in power since a coup in 2014 and legitimized by controversial elections last year. He also calls for a modification of the Constitution, put in place in 2017 under the junta and very favorable to the army.
Reformation of royalty requested
Some activists go further, demanding an in-depth reform of the kingship, a taboo subject until recently in the kingdom. They demand the non-interference of the monarch in political affairs, the repeal of the draconian lese majesty law and the return of the property of the Crown to the bosom of the state, claims deemed unacceptable by the government.
On Wednesday, a car with Queen Suthida on board, who could not avoid the route of the demonstration, was stopped for a few moments and dozens of pro-democracy protesters raised three fingers in front of her vehicle. The day before, other activists had made the passage of King Maha Vajiralongkorn the same salute, inspired by the film “Hunger Games”, unprecedented gestures of challenge to royal authority.
The government justified Thursday the promulgation of the emergency decree by citing “illegal” demonstrations and denouncing the obstruction of the royal procession on Wednesday.