Thailand authorities arrest pro-democracy activists

Bangkok protest

Thai authorities on Aug. 19¬† arrested six activists who took part in ths month’s pro-democracy demonstrations in Bangkok. Among the six activists arrested is lawyer Anon Nampa, who called for reform of the monarchy, marking the second time he has been arrested this month. Previously charged with sedition, Anon joined the student rallies demanding constitutional reform, the dissolution of parliament, and an end to the intimidation of activists.¬†Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha¬†said that the “Harry Potter-themed”¬†rally on Aug. 3 went “too far”¬†and urged¬†protesters “not to create chaos.”¬†Speaking against the monarchy carries the risk of a 15-year prison term in Thailand. Demonstrators have been asserting that democracy is “impossible”¬†without limiting the monarchy’s constitutional role.

Anti-government rallies by students have been occurring on a daily basis for over a month, with the prime minister only confirming that he would consider protester concerns regarding the constitution.

From Jurist, Aug. 21. Used with permission.

Note: Thailand was ruled by a military junta for years after a 2014 coup d’etat, with powers curtailed for the country’s parliament, known as the Legislative Assembly. New elections in June 2019 were mostly a formality, with junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha becoming prime minister. The army and King Maha Vajiralongkorn still have broad emergency powers. The¬†l√®se-majest√© law, imposing criminal penalties for insulting the king, has been used to persecute dissidents. Thai protesters have often appropriated themes from poular culture.

Photo of student protest at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument¬†via Wikipedia
  1. Thailand: limited constitutional reform amid repression

    Thai lawmakers voted Nov. 18 to amend the country’s¬†constitution, but rejected the reform curbing the power of the monarchy that protesters were hoping for. The approved reforms mostly concern parliamentary process. The next day,¬†Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha threatened to use “all possible laws”¬†against democracy protestors calling for the removal of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

    The constitutional vote was taken a day after protests in Bangkok turned violent, with 55 people injured, and two shot with live ammunition. Police employed tear-gas and chemical-laced water cannons against the protesters. To combat the water cannons, protesters have used inflatable rubber ducks as shields, which have become a symbol of their pro-democracy movement. (Jurist, Jurist)

    As we have noted, rubber ducks have become an unlikely pro-democracy symbol elsewhere in Asia as well.