Protesters face up to two years in prison, warns govt spokesman


People participating in anti-government rallies can face up to two years in prison and/or a fine of up to 40,000 baht, government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri announced on Thursday.

He said the order signed by Defence Forces chief General Chalermpol Srisawat and published in the Royal Gazette on Tuesday, bans all gatherings that risk spreading Covid-19 and are in violation of the emergency decree.

The general issued the order in his capacity as the person responsible for handling situations that threaten security and in response to the continuing surge in infections.

The ban also comes as calls to oust Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his government has intensified recently, with a new rally planned for Saturday.

The Saturday rally is scheduled to kick off at Democracy Monument before protesters head to the Grand Palace.

Critics say the emergency decree and restrictions are being used as a political tool to silence criticism of the government’s pandemic response.

The government, meanwhile, insists that people still have the right and freedom to express themselves in good faith and can call the 1111 hotline to lodge complaints against Prayut.

The spokesman said the authorities want the pro-democracy group to cooperate and consider the safety of people as well as efforts made to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Five demonstrations were held last Sunday, including a car mob rally near the Veterans General Hospital on Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road. Protesters lobbed firecrackers at police who fired rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon in return.