Bangkok, Aug 14 (efe-epa).- Thai police on Friday arrested the third organizer of the student movement which has held protests since July to demand democratic reform and reduction in the power enjoyed by the military and monarchy in the country.
Activist Parit Chaiwarak aired his arrest live on his Facebook profile and faces charges of violating the state of emergency decree imposed by the government to combat the Covid-19 pandemic as well as sedition, which carry sentences of up to seven years in prison.
Even as the arrest was underway, hundreds of students continued to protest in another part of the city at the campus of the Chulalongkorn University – the oldest and most prestigious institute in the country – which has traditionally been the alma-mater of a number of Thailand’s elites.
On Aug. 7, the police had arrested two other student leaders Anon Nampa and Panupong “Mike” Jadnok, who have been slapped with the same charges as Parit, although they were released on bail a day later.
The detentions came in the wake of arrest warrants issued against around 30 activists on the same day, when the students issued the call for a new, massive demonstration on Aug. 16 at the iconic Democracy Monument in the Thai capital.
The current wave of protests began in Bangkok on July 17 with students demanding the dissolution of the parliament and democratic reforms to end the hegemony of the pro-military and ultra-royalist elites of the country.
Since then, a series of similar demonstrations have been held in the capital and other cities.
On Monday, one of the organizing groups broke one of the biggest taboos of Thai politics by issuing a list of 10 demands that included reducing the power enjoyed by King Vajiralongkorn.
The country has one of the world’s toughest lèse-majesté laws, which limits any public discussion of the monarch’s decisions and lays down prison sentences of between three and 15 years for defaming, insulting or threatening members of the royal household.
However, the use of the law has greatly diminished since King Vajiralongkorn acceded to the throne in 2016, at the behest of the monarch himself, according to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha.
Although other laws, such as cybercrime, are being applied to silence criticism of the monarchy. EFE-EPA