12 pro-democracy protest leaders were summoned by Royal Thai Police authorities to face charges of allegedly insulting the monarchy criminalized under Section 112, also known as Thailand’s lèse majesté, a day before a planned demonstration to the Crown Property Bureau.
Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code carries a punishment of between three to 15 years imprisonment per count for whoever defames, insults, or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent, or the Regent. It is considered to be the strictest criminal and defamation law in Thailand.
Some of the prominent protest leaders who received the summons are Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Arnon Nampa, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, Patsaravalee “Mild” Tanakitvibulpon, Tatthep “Ford” Ruangprapaiserikit, and Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep who was just arrested yesterday.
Penguin announced on social media that he had received the summon for lèse majesté along with other charges yesterday. He said he was not afraid of any of them or people who were behind the application of law as, according to him, “the ceiling has already been broken.”
Lèse majesté law has recently been put into force against several protesters for the first time in many years after Prime Minister Prime Minster Prayuth Chan-O’Cha stated last Thursday that “all laws” will be enforced against protesters who allegedly violate the law or infringe upon the rights and freedoms of other citizens.
It is also reported in local media agencies that if the planned demonstration today caused any chaotic or violent situations in front of the Crown Property Bureau (CPB), the government’s security authorities will propose to the prime minister the immediate implementation of the emergency decree to enforce the law in serious situations.
The student-led pro-democracy group “Free YOUTH” had then announced the change of the assembly location just as of 10:00 PM. yesterday from the Crown Property Bureau to the headquarters of Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), located about 12 kilometers away.
The abrupt switch has been made to avoid a possible clash with pro-institution opposition groups who were also planned to gather close to the CPB to, in their words, defend the royal properties and confront the pro-democracy demonstrators. The pro-democracy demonstrators had stressed they were not looking for physical confrontation and would stay peaceful.
The gathering at the SCB headquarters will be staged at 3:00 PM today, November 25. Heavy barricades along with huge and long lines of barb-wire fences and shipping containers were deployed in front of the headquarters shortly after the pro-democracy announcement without public notification. Border patrol police are reportedly seen arriving the area.
Although the new location has been confirmed, large groups of police officers and a water cannon truck are still deployed to prepare for any unexpected gathering or dispersal at the Crown Property Bureau.
Meanwhile, a group of ultra-royalists has started gathering in front of the parliament building close to the Crown Property Bureau. The political assembly remains peaceful so far without any intervention of police officials or law enforcement authorities.
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