Thai Demonstrators Plan Protest Against Royal Defamation Law
(Bloomberg) -- Thailand’s pro-democracy groups will hold a gathering this week to press for the abolition of a law that penalizes insulting and criticizing the nation’s top royals, after authorities invoked the act against protest leaders who are demanding monarchy reform.
The protesters, who have been rallying regularly in capital Bangkok and other cities since mid-July, will hold “an important event” on Dec. 10, the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration said on Twitter. The day also marks Thailand’s Constitution Day and International Human Rights Day.
More than a dozen protest leaders are facing lese majeste charges, which entail prison terms of as many as 15 years, as authorities seek to curb the growing taboo-breaking movement that calls for the monarchy power to be reined in. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, who’s rejected calls to quit, last month said the government “will now enforce all laws available to deal with protesters who break the law and ignore other people’s rights and freedom.”
“We’re heading toward more conflict,” Arnon Nampa, a human rights lawyer and one of the protest leaders who have been charged with lese majeste, said in a Facebook post. “The Thai establishment has used lese majeste law as its weapons.”
Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said on Tuesday that the government is following existing laws and isn’t focusing on using any specific laws in particular. The Bureau of the Royal Household declined to comment.
The protest movement is calling for the constitution to be rewritten to make it more democratic. They’re also seeking the resignation of Prayuth, a former army chief who took power in 2014 and returned as premier after elections last year under rules written during his military government.
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