Court asked to permit rally against Section 112
The Ratsadon protest group on Friday petitioned the Civil Court to issue a temporary injunction to allow protesters to hold a rally at Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok on Sunday.
The move came after the government issued a further ban on gatherings under the emergency decree in the 17 tourism provinces including Bangkok which will reopen to foreign tourists on Monday.
The ban, imposed to help curb the spread of Covid-19, was published in the Royal Gazette on Thursday, effective on Monday. Violators are liable to a jail term of no more than two years and/or a fine of no more than 40,000 baht.
Gatherings have been banned till Sunday under earlier stipulations of the emergency decree.
The group led by Panusaya "Rung" Sithijirawattanakul lodged a petition with the court against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Defence Forces chief Gen Chalermpol Srisawat.
They accused the pair of issuing orders and announcements which restrict the public's right to assembly, and they also asked the court to issue a temporary injunction allowing them to hold the protest.
Ms Panusaya said that the group wants to exercise their right to express their political opinions.
"Whenever we announce a plan to hold a peaceful rally, the government always obstructs it," she said.
"The country will reopen in the next three days, but why still ban demonstrations? People will be out gathering and living their normal lives. Therefore, we think the emergency decree is no longer necessary."
Asked why the group did not wait for the government to lift the emergency decree, Seksit Yamsa-nguan, another protest leader, argued that even if the decree is lifted by the government, cases brought against protesters would still be in effect.
But if the court rules the invocation of the emergency decree to be invalid, those cases will also be rendered null and void accordingly, Mr Seksit said.
Asked if the court's injunction being sought will cover only the Ratsadon protest group, she said she hoped the injunction will cover other protest groups nationwide.
"The primary aim of the rally on Sunday is to push for the revocation of Section 112 [of the Criminal Code or the lese majeste law]," Ms Panusaya said.
"The law is being used as a political tool to silence critics," she said.