Arrest warrants for protesters who urged change to monarchy

Arrest warrants for protesters who urged change to monarchy

More than 1,000 students take part in an anti-government rally at Thammasat University Rangsit campus on Aug 10. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
More than 1,000 students take part in an anti-government rally at Thammasat University Rangsit campus on Aug 10. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Arrest warrants out for six activists who took part in a demonstration at which students called for reform of the monarchy last week, but the charges don't mention that.

The charges against the six were not over the demands made at the protest by thousands of people at Thammasat University's Rangsit campus on Aug 10, but for breaching internal security and measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus as well as computer crimes.

The six include Panusaya Sithijirawattankul, 21, the student who read out a manifesto demanding reform of the monarchy. They also include human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa and activist Panopong Jaadnok.

Pathum Thani police chief Pol Maj Gen Chayut Marayat said on Wednesday the Thanya Buri Court approved the arrest warrants on Friday after police had conducted an investigation following complaints registered at Klong Luang police station.

Pol Maj Gen Chayut did not give details on who filed the charges with the police. Other charges can be filed against them later if police have evidence, he added.

Pol Lt Gen Amphol Buarabporn, the Provincial Police Region 1 commissioner, told Reuters: "They can hand themselves in today, or whenever, but shouldn't bring a crowd."

"If they don't hand themselves in, we can arrest them when they're spotted."

Student-led protests have taken place almost daily for more than a month to demand the dissolution of the House of Representatives, a new constitution and an end to the harassment of activists.

The Ministry of Digital Economy will file a complaint against exiled academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun for creating a Facebook group deemed critical of the monarchy, ministry spokesman Putchapong Nodthaisong told Reuters. The group, called Royalist Marketplace, has more than one million members.

"We have filed a request to Facebook to delete the entire group, but the platform hasn’t been cooperative,” Mr Putchapong said. “So the ministry is now going to use the Computer Crime Act.”

Mr Pavin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Two of the six activists wanted over the Aug 10 rally are among three who have already been arrested once and bailed for organising earlier protests.

Gen Prayut has said that young people have the right to protest, but that the rally at which the calls for royal reform was made "went too far".

Prominent right-wing activists planned to meet on Wednesday in Bangkok to discuss way to counter the student-led protests.

High school students were also planning to rally outside  the Ministry Education on Wednesday, following a string of pro-democracy demonstrations at schools across the country.

Students told the Bangkok Post they were upset by reports of teachers and school directors trying to prevent pupils from taking part in demonstrations. Some teachers threatened to deduct points from  their grade scores, according to one student. 


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