Bangkok to use crime of 'treason' to stop democracy demonstrations
First recourse to the draconian law in three years. Sentences of up to 15 years’ prison for those who insult the king. The young democrats want the resignation of the "coup leader" Prayuth, a democratic constitution and limits on the powers of the monarch. Another major protest is scheduled for today.
Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The government is resorting to the crime of "treason" to stop the protests of young democrats. This morning Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reported that 12 anti-government leaders are being investigated on charges of slandering King Maha Vajiralongkorn. The sovereign is a sacred figure in Thailand, and offenses against him are punished with up to 15 years’ imprisonment.
The authorities had not made use of the draconian law for three years: it also provides for closed-door trials for the indicted persons. Among those under investigation are leading figures of the pro-democracy movement: Anon Nampa, Panupong Jaadnok, Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul and Parit Chiwarak; so far they had been prosecuted on charges of "sedition".
Since July, thousands of young people have been demonstrating almost every day demanding the resignation of the “coup leader” Prayuth Chan-ocha, the launch of a democratic constitution and the revision of the role of the monarch, considered excessive in a constitutional monarchy like Thailand's.
The Democratic Front is planning a major demonstration today in front of the offices that manages the assets of the crown. The demonstrators accuse the king of turning them into personal property, when in reality they must be administered "on behalf" of the people. The police have warned that they will arrest anyone approaching within 150 meters of the building that houses the offices. Last week clashes between demonstrators and the police left 55 injured, including wounded by gunshots.
To avoid a possible confrontation with loyalist groups, the young Democrats could move the demonstration to the central offices of the Siam Commercial Bank, of which King Vajiralongkorn is the majority shareholder.