Cops out in force for mass protest

Cops out in force for mass protest

Critics fault defence's propaganda arm

Almost 15,000 police officers will be deployed to "provide safety" for a planned anti-government rally on Wednesday.

Sources said assistant commissioner-general of the Royal Thai Police Damrongsak Kittiprapat had requested 95 companies of crowd control officers from the Metropolitan Police Bureau and Border Patrol Police to ensure security at the demonstration at Democracy Monument.

Regarding reports that arrest warrants had been issued to leaders of the anti-government rallies on Sept 19 and 20, Metropolitan Police chief Phukphong Phongpetra said police were still considering charges but confirmed that no warrants had been issued.

The Facebook page of the Democracy Restoration Group and other pages affiliated with the group called "Khana Ratsadorn" (the People's Group) posted about a royal motorcade planned for Wednesday at the same time as the rally, promising not to block the motorcade if it passes the protest site.

Violence, if it took place, would not be from the protesters but from the government, they said, calling on various parties to stop sparking hatred towards pro-democracy groups.

The groups added they would protest in a peaceful manner to call for reform to the monarchy, not to overthrow it.

Chairman of Progressive Movement Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Pannika Wanich, a leader of the group, on Saturday broadcast their talks on the group's Facebook page about the government's information operations (IO).

Ms Pannika said Stanford University found the Thai military's IO was a "low quality operation" since 684 from the total 926 accounts had no followers at all.

She said "almost 800 accounts had never tweeted anything", but had retweeted from accounts associated with the Thai military.

The Progressive Movement Leader said at least nine accounts of members and MPs of the Move Forward Party, including her account, were targets of the IO.

Mr Thanathorn said that two months ago, when he was a member of a House committee considering the government's 2021 fiscal budget, he asked then army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong if the military had IO.

The general refused to answer the question but his subordinate said there "was no IO in the Thai military", he said.

"IO is like sowing the seed of hatred that would lead to violence in the society," Mr Thanathorn said.

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