Human Interest

Thai protester, 16, faces accusations of insulting king

Bangkok, Dec 17 (efe-epa).- Thai police on Thursday questioned a 16-year-old student accused of lese-majesty for allegedly taking part in an anti-government protest while wearing a crop top similar to that worn by King Vajiralongkorn in some photographs taken of the monarch while in Germany, where he spends much of his time.

The photographs in question, while published in European media, have been censored in Thailand, a country where debating the topic of the royal family remains deeply taboo. Royal reforms are one of the central aims of the current student-led protests in the Southeast Asian nation.

The protester is the youngest to be accused of lese-majesty, a charge that has been brought against at least 30 other participants in the anti-government demonstrations, which erupted in July.

The accused arrived at the station accompanied by his parents and a lawyer to hear the accusation read against him. Another protester, 23, appeared to hear the same accusation.

Both denied crimes against the monarchy, a charge that authorities began to wield against demonstrators last month after at least two years of refraining from turning to the hefty charge.

Lawyer Kumklao Songsomboon, who is representing both protesters, said the “adolescent would be taken to the Central Juvenile and Family Court in Bangkok in accordance with the law and would later be released on bail.”

Thailand’s lese-majesty has been criticized by a number of United Nations agencies and NGOs as restricting free speech and handing down disproportionate sentences.

The wave of student-led demonstrations, which have hardened since mid-October with police using water cannon, tear gas and pepper spray against peaceful protesters, is directed against 2014 coup leader Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha, who they have asked to resign.

They are also demanding a new constitution to limit the power of the military, which has taken power in 13 coups since 1932, as the current charter was drawn up by the junta that ruled between 2014 and 2019.EFE-EPA


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