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Protesters gather at Bangkok’s United Nations, call to abolish lèse majesté law

Caitlin Ashworth

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PHOTO: Twitter: iLaw

Pro-democracy protesters gathered in front of the United Nations building in Bangkok, calling on the organisation to step in after many activists were recently arrested for allegedly violating Thailand’s controversial lèse majesté law. The law carries prison sentences from 3 to 15 years for insulting or defamatory statements about the Thai Monarchy. Activists say the law violates human rights.

Today’s protest falls on International Human Rights Day as well as Thailand’s Constitution Day, which commemorates the adoption of Thailand’s first constitution in 1932 (there’s been numerous charters since then.)

So far, at least 23 activists involved in the recent pro-democracy rallies have been charged under the law for insulting or defaming the Thai Monarchy. Activists have been calling on government and monarchy reform. Questioning and speaking out against the monarchy is taboo and unprecedented in Thai society.

Many activists are now using the hashtag on social media #abolish112 to call for the end to the lèse majesté law which is Section 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code. Those who break the law face 3 to 15 years in prison.

Inner Bangkok streets have been blocked by police with shipping containers to prevent protesters from gathering outside the Government House which is nearby.

Protesters are also gathering at the October 14 Memorial, which is down the street from the United Nations building. The memorial represents the 1973 popular uprising which ended the military dictatorship of Thanom Kittikachorn.

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | Bangkok Post | DW

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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