Thai activist joins protest over sedition charges


Bangkok (AFP)

A Thai activist targeted the government for “threatening” the pro-democracy movement during a protest on Sunday – a day after he was released on bail on sedition charges for his role in a recent rally.

The kingdom has seen almost daily protests for weeks by mostly young students denouncing the government aligned with the army of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha.

Anon Numpa, a 35-year-old human rights lawyer, and another activist were arrested on Friday and charged with sedition and breaking the rules of the coronavirus for participating in a rally in Bangkok last month.

The arrests also came four days after Anon led a discussion at a subversive protest over the role of the monarchy in Thailand.

Freed on bail on condition of not repeating the alleged offenses, Anon traveled to Chiang Mai, a northern city popular with tourists, on Sunday to speak at a rally.

“We are repeating our three demands: to stop threatening the people, dissolve parliament and write a new constitution,” he told an enthusiastic crowd of around 400 people.

Analysts say the 2017 military-style charter tipped the scales in last year’s election in favor of former army chief Prayut and his party.

Protesters see his administration – stacked up with former generals and elite establishment allies – as a legacy of a royalist junta regime.

“We ask that this charter be amended because it is the legacy of dictators,” said Anon

His speech avoided discussion of reforming draconian royal libel laws, which shields the monarchy from criticism.

The law carries a sentence of up to 15 years per indictment, making it virtually impossible to examine the very wealthy King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

No charges have so far been filed under the law against the protesters.

Another anti-government protest expected Sunday in Phitsanulok province has been called off, according to its organizer on Facebook, who announced it under the hashtag “stop threatening people.”

Protesters claim their nascent democracy movement was organically organized, with young leaders taking to social media to promote flashmobs.

The coronavirus pandemic has plunged the Thai economy into free fall, heightening the discontent of young Thais as the recession has exposed the equalities of a society seen to favor the pro-military elite.


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