Tag Archives: Thai

Thai PM, Chan-o-cha orders Police crackdown over democracy protest.

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Lawmakers have this week been discussing various proposals for constitutional change, which mostly exclude any reform to the monarchy.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered security agencies on Thursday to crack down on pro-democracy protesters, days after police used tear gas and water cannon at a Bangkok rally.

The country has been rocked since July by youth-led protests demanding a new constitution, unprecedented calls to reform the untouchable monarchy, and for Prayut to resign.

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Clashes outside parliament Tuesday between pro-democracy protesters and hardline royalists marked a steep rise in violence, with six people shot.

A day later, some 20,000 people massed in Bangkok’s main shopping district, and protesters daubed anti-royal graffiti outside the Thai National Police headquarters.

Prayut, who seized power in a 2014 coup, issued a statement Thursday warning protesters will be hit with the full force of the law.

“The situation is still not resolved in any good direction and is likely to develop into more conflict leading to more violence,” he said.

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“If this is left… it may damage the nation and the most beloved institution,” he added, referring to the monarchy.

He said the government and security agencies need to “intensify their practices”, and enforce all sections of all laws.

This could mean more charges under the country’s harsh royal defamation laws, which are routinely interpreted to include any criticism of any aspect of the monarchy — including content posted or shared on social media.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn asked the Thai government in June to suspend using the lese majeste laws, but human rights critics say there is a host of other legislation that authorities can use to target democracy activists.

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Asked if the government was giving the nod to police to pursue lese majeste charges, spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri did not rule it out.

“The protesters should respect all laws in general. We don’t specify whether we would be enacting any laws specifically,” he told AFP.

The king sits at the apex of Thai power, supported by the military and the kingdom’s billionaire clans, and the royal family enjoys support from mostly older conservatives.

On Wednesday they agreed to look at two proposals for a “constitutional drafting assembly”, while rejecting more far-reaching bills to revise the role of the royals and change the makeup of the senate.


#Newsworthy…

Thai King, Maha gets massive support from thousands.

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So far, pro-democracy protests have remained peaceful, but scores of students and activists have been arrested and charged — some with the serious crime of sedition.

Thousands of royalists thronged to Bangkok’s Grand Palace Sunday for a glimpse of the Thai king, a massive show of support after months of protests calling for an overhaul of the government and reform of the monarchy.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn sits at the apex of Thai power, his influence permeating every aspect of society.

But the once-unassailable institution faces unprecedented challenges from a growing pro-democracy movement, some of whose leaders call for reforms including an end to draconian royal defamation laws.

On Sunday, royal devotion was on display as thousands wearing yellow shirts the royal colour waited near the Grand Palace clutching portraits of King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida.

“We will live loyally, die faithfully,” chanted the crowd as he emerged from the palace to greet them. “Long live the King!”

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Zigzagging through the crowd, the inscrutable monarch received flowers from his supporters, at one point saying “thank you” and signing his portrait, according to footage from local media.

The king — who spends long periods of time in Germany — has been in the kingdom in recent weeks to mark a Buddhist holiday and the anniversary of his father’s death.

The visit has coincided with non-stop demonstrations from mostly young activists, who have staged guerilla rallies drawing thousands to Bangkok’s most traffic-clogged intersections as a show of defiance.

While the movement is leaderless, they are united in their demand for the removal of Premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha, a former military chief who came to power after staging a coup in 2014.

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But calls for reform of the monarchy have drawn a backlash from Thailand’s conservative bloc, rousing royalist groups to stage their own rallies.

“We came here to show our loyalty to the king,” said Bin Bunleurit, a Thai former actor who decried the students’ demands.

Controversially, the students have also called for a clear accounting of the palace’s finances — which the extremely wealthy king took control of in 2018 — and for the monarch to “stay out” of politics.

“It is not reform, it is about overthrowing the monarchy,” Bin insisted to reporters outside the palace.

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Over the weekend three high-profile student leaders were released on bail, only to be swiftly accosted as authorities attempted to re-arrest them on another charge.

A scuffle with plainclothes police landed them in hospital.

On Sunday night one of the trio, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, pledged in a Facebook post that they would keep pushing for their goals.

“If the people do not step back, we will not step back,” he wrote.


#Newsworthy…

Thai’s premier call parliament again as protesters hit up pressure.

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The movement appeared to be gaining traction across the country with smaller protests taking place Sunday from Phuket in the south to Khon Kaen in the northeast.

Thailand’s embattled premier called Monday for a special session of parliament as protesters planned more rallies to demand his resignation, the release of jailed activists, and reforms to the monarchy.

Tens of thousands of mostly young protesters have taken to the streets in the past week in defiance of an emergency decree banning gatherings of more than four people.

Police said around 20,000 people protested across the capital Sunday, although activists and local media estimated much bigger crowds.

As they prepared to rally again Monday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha said parliament — currently in recess — would be recalled to discuss how to reduce tensions.

“We support opening an extraordinary session to solve this conflict,” he told reporters, warning protesters not to break the law.

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“I request protesters rally peacefully. The government has already compromised to some degree,” he said.

The largely leaderless movement is calling for the resignation of Prayut — a former army chief and mastermind of a 2014 coup — as well as the re-writing of the military-drafted constitution they say rigged last year’s election in his favour.

Most controversially, protesters are also making unprecedented demands to reform the powerful and ultra-wealthy monarchy.

They want the abolition of a draconian defamation law that shields King Maha Vajiralongkorn from criticism, greater transparency of royal finances, and for the monarch to stay out of politics.

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‘Protect the monarchy’
It has gained momentum since July, but sharply escalated last week after a group of protesters surrounded a royal motorcade and flashed three-fingered “democracy salutes” — borrowed from the “Hunger Games” movies — at Queen Suthida.

Two activists now face charges under a rarely used law banning “violence against the queen” and face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Confrontations escalated further on Friday when riot police used water cannon and other strong-arm tactics, provoking widespread outrage.

Prayut warned Monday the government needed to protect the monarchy.

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“This is the duty of all Thais,” he told reporters.

Apart from arrests by police, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society said it had flagged more than 325,000 messages on social media platforms that violated the Computer Crimes Act, which critics say is used to muzzle dissent.

Police also warned local media outlets that their coverage of the protests would be examined for possible illegal content.

By midday, #SaveFreePress was the latest hashtag trending on Thai Twitter, one of several platforms being used by tech-savvy protesters to coordinate their activity.

They have also copied many tactics employed by Hong Kong protesters during months of frequently violent clashes there last year, including using improvised protective clothing in case of confrontations with riot police.


#Newsworthy…

Man arrested for killing ex wife in Bangkok


A man killed his ex-wife and wounded another person at a shopping centre in Bangkok on Tuesday, February 18, ten days after a mass shooting at another mall in Thailand’s northeast.

The man had gone into a beauty clinic at Century The Movie Plaza mall where his ex-wife worked and opened fire, killing her and wounding a bystander, Colonel Kissana Pattanacharoen said.


Thai police arrest man for killing ex-wife at Bangkok shopping mall

The gunman then fled the Century The Movie Plaza, near the Thai capital’s Victory Monument.

“One person died and another was injured,” police Colonel Kissana Pattanacharoen told Reuters.

Thai police arrest man for killing ex-wife at Bangkok shopping mall

The gunman was arrested while on the run in another province, police said on Wednesday morning. He was charged with premeditated murder and illegal gun possession, and three other charges.

Ten days before, a soldier killed at least a dozen people at the Terminal 21 shopping centre in the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima. He had earlier killed his commanding officer, other soldiers at his base and several people at a Buddhist temple.


#Newsworthy…