Thailand has issued an emergency decree placing a ban on gatherings of more than five people in the country. The decree was issued in the early hours of Thursday around 4 a.m. in Thailand. The government of the Asian country issued the decree to stop the three months-long protests that have rocked the country. The pro-democracy protesters in the country are agitating for the end of the monarchical system practiced in the country.
Late in the day on Wednesday, thousands of demonstrators broke through the police barricade in front of the Prime Minister’s offices. The protesters stayed in front of the Prime Minister’s offices and hundreds of them stayed there overnight. The protesters stated that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha needs to resign and that they are also calling for a total reform of the government.
“All indications point towards several groups of people who have been inciting, inviting and constituting illegal gatherings,” the decree stated. “Their actions have disturbed public peace and order.”
The government also stated that the demonstrators had blocked the movement of a royal motorcade which had been conveying the youngest son of Queen Suthida and King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Prince Dipangkorn. Video footage of the scene depicts the demonstrators making the three-fingered salute which was adopted from the “Hunger Games” movies as the symbol of the pro-democracy demonstrations and protests in Thailand.
“Their activities have led to the belief that there have been violent acts, which have disturbed the government’s stability, safety, property, and staff,” the decree stated. “This is no longer a peaceful protest that is stipulated in the constitution.”
The decree did not only ban gatherings of more than five people, it also placed a ban on the publishing or reporting of news – on websites and other mediums, but that can also disturb public peace and order. The decree added that certain places will no longer be open to the public. Law enforcement officers will be deployed to enforce new traffic rules and enforce other stipulations of the decree.
The police in Thailand have arrested 22 people as announced by the Thai Police Colonel, Kissana Phathanacharoen. The leader of the protest Arnon Nampa, a human rights lawyer, and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, student leader, was arrested on Thursday in connection with the protests. Sithijirawattanakul was arrested for a speech she delivered in front of protesters in August while Nampa was arrested because of the speech he delivered on Wednesday in Chiang Mai, one of the northern cities in Thailand
Panusaya “Rung” delivered a speech stating the 10 demands of the protesters on August 10. She is the spokeswoman of the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, a student union group proposing the reform of the monarchy. The group is demanding for citizens to be given the freedom to speak up against the monarchy, nullification of royal office, ending the participation of the military in governance, and putting an end to the activities of the royal guards.
The protests which were championed by student groups started in July and now, different members of the society have lent their voices to the demands of the students. They are agitating for a new constitution, the resignation of the prime minister, a dissolution of the Thai parliament, and an overturning of the laws allowing the state to punish critics of the monarchy. Most importantly, they are calling for a reform of the monarch to reduce the powers of King Vajiralongkorn, and usher in a proper constitutional monarchical system of government.
On Thursday, after the decree was issued, Free Youth, one of the protest groups urged residents to join students, workers, and others who have gathered peacefully with violence to continue the protest despite the decree.