Thailand’s government has imposed a state of emergency in a bid to end three months of student-led street protests calling for reforms to the monarchy and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, arresting at least 20 activists and two of the movement’s leaders early on Thursday.
Despite the restrictions imposed, hundreds defied the new measures.Protests have escalated over the past three months and on Wednesday tens of thousands of people marched in Bangkok, the capital, setting up camp outside Government House, the prime minister’s office.
The government said it also acted after demonstrators obstructed a royal motorcade.
Videos shared widely on social media showed police protecting the royals’ yellow car as it moved through crowds of people holding their arms aloft in the three-finger salute that has become the symbol of the democracy movement and shouting their demands.
The announcement was accompanied by a document setting out measures that took effect from 4am local time (21:00 GMT) banning large gatherings and allowing authorities to ban people from entering any area they designate.
It also prohibits: “publication of news, other media, and electronic information that contains messages that could create fear or intentionally distort information, creating misunderstanding that will affect national security or peace and order.Shortly afterwards, police cleared the remaining protesters from outside Government House.
Police said they had arrested protest leaders Parit “Penguin” Chirawat and rights lawyer Arnon Nampa.
Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said its earlier statement that Panupong Jadnok had also been arrested was incorrect
The protest movement aims to remove Prayuth, the former army chief who took power in a 2014 coup that was meant to end a decade of violence between supporters and opponents of the country’s establishment, and who solidified his position in elections that were held last year.
They also want a new constitution and have called for a reduction in the powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn – breaking a long-standing taboo on criticising the monarchy.
The monarchy has been around more than 700 years.
Credit To : Ajazeera English