Govt issues warning to protesters

Govt issues warning to protesters

Be careful with future rallies, says Wissanu

Wissanu: 'Don't defy charter court'
Wissanu: 'Don't defy charter court'

The government has warned protesters not to defy the Constitutional Court's ruling which ordered them to stop any actions that pose a threat to the constitutional monarchy.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, the government's legal expert, on Thursday warned demonstrators to be careful as they can no longer cite their rights and liberties for their actions as they did previously because the court ruled that such actions were not an exercise in rights and freedom under the constitution.

"They must be more careful in future rallies," Mr Wissanu said.

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon echoed the view, saying protest groups must comply with the court's ruling and order.

Asked whether protesters will risk facing more criminal charges if they still hold rallies that defy the ruling, Gen Prawit said police will handle the matter.

He also brushed aside speculation that future demonstrations may become violent, saying the court's ruling has laid the issue to rest. Gen Prawit added that authorities are monitoring the situation closely.

On Wednesday, the Constitutional Court ruled that the actions of three protest leaders at a rally at Thammasat University in August last year were an attempt to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.

The ruling involved allegations by Natthaporn Toprayoon, a lawyer and former adviser to the chief ombudsman, who petitioned the court to consider whether the actions of human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa, Panupong Jadnok and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul violated Section 49 of the constitution.

The section prohibits people from exercising their rights and freedom to overthrow the democratic regime with the King as head of state.

The majority of Constitutional Court judges ruled the actions of the trio had covert intentions to exercise their rights and liberties to undermine and overthrow the democratic regime with the King as head of state. The judges ordered the trio and their supporters to stop such actions.

The three protest leaders took part in a rally at Thammasat University's Rangsit campus in Pathum Thani's Khlong Luang district on Aug 10 last year. At the rally, Ms Panusaya read out a set of 10 demands including reform of the monarchy.

The incident shocked many people and they began to accuse the protesters of crossing the line.

Mr Natthaporn said  the court's ruling will provide the basis for a move to seek the dissolution of the Move Forward Party (MFP).

Mr Natthaporn accused the party and its MPs of providing financial aid to the protesters and helping to seek bail for the release of arrested ones. Some of the party's MPs also took part in demonstrations previously, Mr Natthaporn said.

In a joint statement, student organisations at major universities rejected the court's ruling, saying the three rally leaders' proposals for the reform of the royal institution would actually promote its dignity and free it from criticism.

The statement said protesters were exercising their right to freedom of expression and to demonstrate, which was protected by the constitution.

Cholnan Srikaew, the leader of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party, said that party members had been concerned that divisions could arise over the charter court's ruling.

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