Public rallies banned for coup anniversary

Public rallies banned for coup anniversary

Warning to stay away from Govt House

The junta will enforce its 2015 law which bans demonstrations unless licensed by authorities. The government has declared a no-go area within 50 metres of Government House. (Creative Commons via Flickr)
The junta will enforce its 2015 law which bans demonstrations unless licensed by authorities. The government has declared a no-go area within 50 metres of Government House. (Creative Commons via Flickr)

Government House and surrounding areas within a 50 metres radius are expected to be declared a "controlled zone", where any public gatherings are prohibited, said a deputy national police chief Sunday.

This development came only a couple of days before the planned gathering of anti-regime groups at Thammasat University's Tha Phrachan campus in Bangkok that also vowed to march to Government House despite escalating warnings by security authorities.

When declared a controlled zone under the powers of the 2015 Act on public gatherings and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) order, any unauthorised gathering in prohibited areas will lead to a maximum prison term of six months, a maximum fine of 10,000 baht, or both, Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said.

The Royal Thai Police has prepared between three to 20 companies of police officers (about 520 to 3,520 officers based on a count of 176 officer per company), to ensure law and order during the planned gathering and march of the anti-regime groups, he said.

Tuesday marks the NCPO's four years in power after staging a coup that toppled the Pheu Thai Party-led government.

The demonstrators, known as "People who want an election" and led by the Democracy Restoration Group (DRG), are pressuring the government to hold a general election by November this year.

The NCPO has insisted the poll will be held in February next year.

Ahead of the planned movement of the groups on Sunday, Pol Gen Srivara cited an intelligence report saying that police have learned certain hard-core factions of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) were plotting a move to stir up unrest using weapons.

The police were closely monitoring these violent groups because they are linked to some groups involved in the planned political movement although they are not exactly the same groups, he said.

Meanwhile, NCPO spokesman Maj Gen Piyapong Klinpan said the NCPO is willing to listen to demonstrators' opinions as long as they conform to the law, don't violate the rights of anyone else, don't disseminate distorted information and don't jeopardise national peace by provoking hatred.

"This is what makes the NCPO win recognition by the majority of people in the society as having no intentions to fully use its powers although it is a dictatorial regime. It doesn't opt for a forceful or violent approach to stop such activities or dialogues and requests for cooperation," he said.

The NCPO has even offered to ensure convenience for the demonstrators and prevent any possible violence that could happen at the demonstration, he said.

Despite saying the NCPO wasn't worried about the planned march of the demonstrators to Government House, he said the NCPO would urge the demonstrators to give up the march for the sake of the public.

Giving it up would help avoid causing chaos to Bangkok's traffic during the beginning of a new school term, which is associated with heavy traffic congestion already.

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