BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s government announced an emergency decree early on Thursday to address street protesters in Bangkok who have set up camp outside the prime minister’s office and obstructed a royal motorcade, state television announced.
The police and soldiers dispersed demonstrators on Thursday, marking the start of a crackdown on a student-led protest movement.
— luke de mark lee (@thebabelee) October 15, 2020
Protesters have called for the ousting of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former junta leader, and a new constitution. They have also called for reforms to the monarchy of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
In an announcement published on Thailand’s Royal Gazette website, the government said it took the measure because of “an action that had an impact on a royal motorcade” carrying members of King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s family, as well as national security and economic considerations.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha declared the state of emergency after about 10,000 anti-government protesters rallied at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument on Wednesday before marching to Government House, the seat of the Thai government. They broke through police barricades and surrounded the building, pressing their demand for the resignation of Mr Prayuth’s administration.
The biggest cable operator in Thailand called Two visions has censored all the international coverage associated with the crackdown so that news related to it doesn’t reach the people.
Major Thai cable @TrueVisions censor every international coverage about protest in Thailand. This is 2020. Please Retweet!! #WhatsHappenInThailand #WhatIsHappeningInThailand #WhatsHappeningInThailand https://t.co/YGYX5yLUtY
— Than Lim(林) Rittiphan 🇹🇭🇭🇰🇹🇼🇯🇵🇦🇺 (@BKKRickLee) October 15, 2020
An announcement on state television said- “As it appears that many groups of people have invited and incited illegal public assemblies in Bangkok … acted to affect the royal motorcade and committed severe actions that affected national security … it is extremely necessary to introduce an urgent measure to end this situation effectively and promptly to maintain peace and order,”
Thailand’s youthful protesters began near-daily demonstrations in July and are demanding Mr Prayuth’s resignation, the writing of a new constitution and limits on the monarchy’s powers and wealth.
Thailand banned demonstrations and arrested at least three protest leaders on Thursday after an escalation in more than three months of anti-government rallies.
Thailand’s crackdown coincided with a visit to the country from the king. The king, who lives in Germany and had visited the country only on one-day visits in recent months, arrived on Saturday in Bangkok for what Thais expect to be a longer stay.
Since ascending the throne after the death of his father King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 2016, the king has taken ownership of tens of billions of dollars’ worth of crown property and put two army regiments under his direct command.