Thai police have cordoned off Bangkok and slapped charges against activists involved in anti-government protests for allegedly insulting the monarchy, a day before another rally was scheduled to occur.
This would be the first time such charges would be brought under the so-called lese majeste laws which cover insults to the royal family in more than two years, Al Jazeera reported. Anyone found guilty of the crime would face 15 years in prison.
A rally was planned at the Crown Property Bureau where police had set up barricades and deployed 6,000 officers but the venue was changed late on Tuesday following the summons sents.
Protesters said that they would instead meet at the headquarters of the Siam Commercial Bank, a company which was 23-percent owned by the king.
“Let’s reclaim the property that should belong to the people,” the FreeYouth protest group was quoted as saying.
More than 50 people were hurt last week when police used water cannon and tear gas against thousands of protesters at the parliament.
In July, Thais stormed the streets of Bangkok to protest against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha before turning their eyes to King Maha Vajiralongkorn who was demanded to step down from office.
He was again asked again to resign after granting pardons to 30,000 prisoners and reducing the sentences of 200,000 others.
Activist Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak said in a Twitter post that the ceiling “has been broken” and that “nothing can stop us anymore.
“This will expose the brutality of the Thai feudal system to the world,” he added.
According to the report quoting Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Parit was among the 12 protest leaders to receive a summons, along with human rights lawyer Anon Numpha, Panupong “Mike” Jaadnok, and prominent student leader Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul.
Based on a report by Reuters quoting an unidentified police official, seven protest leaders have already received a summons. They have until November 30 to acknowledge the charges over comments they made at protests held on September 19 and 20.
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