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Thai PM insists martial law will not be used against protesters

Maya Taylor

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Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says he has no intention of resorting to martial law to put an end to the current political unrest, adding that existing laws provide enough scope for dealing with those who take matters into their own hand. The Bangkok Post reports that he was responding to reporters following a US-ASEAN Business Council meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“In a democratic world, I cannot get everyone to agree with me. All I can do is to find a way to move forward together to avoid problems in the future.”

The then General Prayut, head of the Thai army, made similar assurances in the latter stages of the Yingluck Shinawatra government before he led the NCPO in a bloodless military coup in May 2014.

Meanwhile, the Ratsadon (People’s Party) group says it’s planning to hold protests over the course of 5 days, without camping overnight. The group has confirmed its intentions in a Line group shared with the media, adding that locations and times will be confirmed on social media.

Responding to a question about the 5-day plan, the PM appeared to take the announcement in his stride.

“Just let them announce it. The law is there to punish anyone who breaks it.”

The announcement comes after a rally at the headquarters of the Siam Commercial Bank yesterday, which was initially supposed to take place at the Crown Property Bureau. The group changed the location the night before, claiming it did so to avoid royalist groups deliberately sent to provoke them. An explosive device was thrown and gunshots fired injuring 2 protesters. Full report about the incident HERE.

Thousands of pro-democracy activists gathered at the SCB building, which was closed for the day, in the Chatuchak district of the capital. Protest leaders stood on the back of a truck, addressing activists through loudspeakers as they slammed the government. Prominent activist, Parit Chiwarak, aka, “Penguin”, was wearing a yellow duck suit as he held a sign that read, “Citizens Area”.

The use of yellow ducks has become a prominent feature of the anti-government protests. Large rubber ducks were initially deployed to deal with the worst of the water cannons, with protesters using the birds to shield themselves from chemical-laced water and tear gas. But with large yellow ducks also used in Hong Kong’s protests this year, they have become an international symbol of the pro-democracy movement. Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur costumes have also been employed to make political statements about the age and culture of MPs in the ruling Palang Pracharat coalition.

Meanwhile, Penguin is condemning the decision to press charges of lèse majesté against pro-democracy activists, calling it an attempt to leave protest groups without leaders. He says he’s confident the move will backfire, as it will encourage more people to come and attend future protests. At least 12 protesters have been summonsed to face charges, with police saying they plan to summons between 3 – 5 others, who will also be charged.

One of the protesters charged under Section 112 is Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, who was nominated by the BBC as one of their 100 most inspirational women in the world 2020. Read that story HERE.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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