Bangkok, Oct 23 (efe-epa).- The leaders of pro-democracy protests that have swept Thailand this month remain behind bars, although the majority of the 78 protesters who were detained between 13 and 22 October have been released on bail.
Bangkok police deputy director, Piya Tawichai, told a press conference on Friday that eight of the 78 detainees remained in preventive custody. They include the most prominent leaders of the largely student-led protests that since July have challenged the government and monarchy, an institution that is normally shielded from criticism.
On Friday, a well-known activist, Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa was greeted by dozens of demonstrators who had gathered to demand the release of those who have been locked up for participating in peaceful protests demanding that the prime minister, former general Prayut Chan-ocha, step down and calling for reforms to the constitution and, most controversially, the all-powerful monarchy.
STATE OF EMERGENCY
The release of prisoners on Friday came one day after a “severe” state of emergency – declared last week in response to the protests that saw tens of thousands of people occupy various parts of Bangkok – was lifted and on one day before a deadline protesters had given Prayut to announce his resignation.
Prayut has been in power since he led a military coup in 2014.
Protesters are expected to return en masse to the streets once that ultimatum expires on Saturday.
The state of emergency and the arrests of the most high-profile protesters – including lawyer Anon Nampa and students Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul and Parit “Penguin” Chaiwarak – have failed to quell the massive demonstrations, which were held every day from 14 October until Wednesday when the demands were delivered to the prime minister.
At the press conference on Friday, Bangkok police’s deputy chief said that 46 of those arrested have pending charges for crimes such as violating the state of emergency, 21 for participating in illegal gatherings, 10 for sedition and 1 for resisting authority.
VIOLENCE TOWARDS THE QUEEN