Cops probe Saturday rallies in city

Cops probe Saturday rallies in city

Charges 'likely' after decree breaches

A police investigation is under way to single out lawbreakers in last Saturday's protests involving the red shirts and the Ratsadon members in Bangkok.

Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawichai, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) and the MPB spokesman, said on Sunday the protests were held without observing public health safety measures, which could encourage the spread of Covid-19, and breached the emergency decree.

Five groups of protesters held the rallies. One group, called Taking Democracy's Side (TDS) led by Thanapol Thanadetpornlert, assembled at Wat Chana Songkram where a merit-making rite was organised in remembrance of the red shirts who died in the clash between the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and the security forces near the Kok Wua intersection on April 10, 2010.

Another group, also from the TDS, headed by Pornwalai Thaweethanawanich, converged around the Democracy Monument to commemorate the 2010 event. A third group, made up of UDD members and core figures including Nattawut Saikuar and Tida Tawornseth, held a remembrance ceremony on Saturday at the 14 October 73 Memorial near the Kok Wua intersection.

A fourth group comprising Ratsadon protesters and a network of young people in Nonthaburi was led by Chinnawat Chankrachang. The protesters made their way in convoys of vehicles and motorcycles from the Nonthaburi pier to the Kok Wua intersection.

The fifth group organised by Pansak Srithep turned up at the Supreme Court where they called for the release of Ratsadon protest leaders detained in prison for multiple charges including violations of Section 112 of the Criminal Code or the lese majeste law. The Pansak-led group also held an activity allegedly in symbolic resistance to enforcement of Section 112.

The organisers went ahead with the protests with no consideration for public peace and the danger that Covid-19 transmission presents in the capital, according to Pol Maj Gen Piya. The Chana Songkhram police, with jurisdiction over the protest sites, were checking to see if any protesters had violated the law.

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) released its assessment of the human rights situation related to the mass protests in Thailand last year.

The assessment concluded that no major violent event took place last year. The protesters and the law enforcement officers were involved in intense confrontations on some occasions although both sides tried to exercise restraint.

However, the NHRC report also described as an overreaction the police's deployment of high-pressure water jets mixed with chemicals against the youth-led protesters near the Pathumwan intersection on Oct 16 last year.

Overall, the report said the government has not interfered in people's exercise of freedom. Some protests took place with no prior permission as stipulated by Public Assembly Act. Also, police complied with legal procedures in charging the protesters and issuing warrants. The protesters were also temporarily released during the course of investigation.

However, the report raised concerns about people's right to information and air their opinions, after the Digital Economy and Society Ministry obtained 50 court orders to suspend or erase information displayed at 1,145 URLs between July and December last year.

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