Thai police summon protest leaders over emergency law breach


Police in Thailand have summoned organisers of student-led protests against the government, citing a violation of coronavirus emergency rules that forbids large gatherings, a senior officer said on Wednesday.

A total of five individuals were summoned by the police, among them was human rights lawyer Anon Nampa, who two days ago had demanded reforms of Thailand’s powerful monarchy, a highly sensitive topic.

Police however clarified that Mr. Anon, 35, was being summoned over an earlier protest in July outside the army headquarters.

Since mid-July, there had been a series of near-daily, student-led rallies around the country that have demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and amendments to a military-drafted constitution.

Police Lt. Col. Athich Donnanchai, deputy superintendent of Nanglerng police station said “Anon and four others have been summoned for questioning and to hear the charge of breaching the emergency decree.”

Mr. Anon was separately the subject of an official complaint on Wednesday that asked police to take action against him for breaches of the emergency decree and of the constitution, concerning his remarks about the monarchy.

Defaming the monarchy is punishable by up to 15 years in prison under Thailand’s strict lese majeste law, which Mr. Anon had also criticised.

Police said they were looking into what took place at Monday’s protest, where Mr Anon was a key speaker.

Asked about his summons, Mr Anon in a text message said the decree “is a law to gag and stop activism”.

The government last month said the emergency decree in place since March would only be used as a measure against the coronavirus and from August onwards said it would not be used to prevent political rallies.

Six protest leaders or political activists in two different provinces were summoned last month for breaching the emergency decree, among other alleged offences.

In remarks at a military academy on Wednesday, army chief Apirat Kongsompong made no specific mention of the protests, but told military cadets they must be loyal to the nation.

“(COVID-19) is a curable disease, but hating the nation, hating one’s own country, this is a disease that is not curable,” Gen. Apirat said. (Source: Bangkok Post)