Conflicts & War

Activists accuse Thai govt of sowing ‘seeds of hatred’

Bangkok, Oct 28 (efe-epa).- Former opposition leaders in Thailand turned activists on Wednesday accused the Government of sowing “seeds of hatred” for falsely accusing anti-government protesters of wanting to overthrow the monarchy.

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, two former leaders of the disbanded Future Forward opposition party, made the remarks in a press conference.

“First of all, the student movement has the right (to demonstrate). They have not mentioned anything about the abolition of the monarchy, they just want to reform it to adapt it to current times and democracy,” said Thanathorn, a former prime minister candidate and emerging figure in Thai politics until he was banned.

“Please do not sow seeds of hatred,” urged the former leader said, adding that the Thai government in the past accused the protesters of trying to overthrow the monarchy.

Anti-government protesters began their latest wave of protests in July to call for reforms in the country to reduce the power of the military, which has taken power in 13 coups since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.

A month later they presented new demands to reform the monarchy to subject it to constitutional limits, breaking a taboo in Thailand, where the institution is protected by lese-majeste laws, which provides sentences of up to 15 years in prison.

Protests have sparked pro-monarchical counter-demonstrations, which are less numerous but on some occasions have led to minor clashes with anti-government activists that raise fears of the risk of an escalation of violence.

Thanathorn and Piyabutr, who support the marches and the reform of the monarchy, are involved in several judicial processes that they attribute to a strategy of the authorities to silence the opposition.

At the press conference, Piyabutr said they are ready to prove their innocence after the Election Commission decided to legally denounce the Future Forward leaders for a loan made to the formation by Thanathorn.

This case was used by the Constitutional Court to dissolve Future Forward in February, which was the third most voted party in the 2019 elections with a progressive program that attracted many young voters, and disable its executive committee.

The controversial decision sparked a first wave of student protests disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid the increase in political tension, the Constitutional Court decided Wednesday to disqualify opposition parliamentarian Tanwarin “Golf” Sukkhapisit for owning shares in a media outlet.

For this same charge, the same court forced Thanathorn’s expulsion from Parliament in November 2019. EFE-EPA


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