Two Thai protesters could face life imprisonment for violence against the Queen

Two Thai protesters could face life imprisonment for violence against the Queen. Two activists in Thailand have been arrested on charges of attempting violence against the Queen, which could result in a possible life sentence.

The arrests come after Queen Suthida’s motorcade drove past protesters in Bangkok on Wednesday, with video showing the crowd shouting and holding up the defiant three-finger salute inspired by the Hunger Games movie franchise. Police were seen pushing back protesters as the car, which also carried King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s youngest son, Prince Dipangkorn, slowly drove past.

Bunkueanun “Francis” Paothong and Ekachai Hongkangwan are to be charged under Section 110 of Thailand’s criminal code, according to the Thai Lawyers For Human Rights.

Those saw as liable of Section 110 face 16 years to a maximum life imprisonment for violence or attempted violence against the Queen, the beneficiary apparent or regent. On the off chance that the actions are considered liable to endanger the Queen’s life, then the death penalty could be applied.

Poonsuk Poonsulcharoen, a lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, said the pair are believed to be facing charges that carry a maximum life sentence.

Ekachai was arrested while he was on his way to Bangkok’s Dusit police station to hand himself in, and Bunkueanun was taken into custody after he surrendered to police, the lawyers group said. The incident with the royal motorcade was cited by the government as one of the reasons for announcing an emergency decree early Thursday morning.

The decree, which became effective in the Thai capital, bans gatherings of more than five people and includes a nationwide ban on publishing and broadcasting news and information – including online – that incites fear among the public.

In a mass demonstration of defiance, thousands of protesters hit the streets of Bangkok for a second night on Thursday. Authorities warned through a loudspeaker that demonstrators were violating the decree, were being photographed and could be prosecuted and arrested. But crowds of protesters congregated at the Ratchaprasong Intersection in Bangkok’s commercial center, chanting, sneering at police, and waving lights from their phones. Protests are expected to continue through the weekend.

Student-led demonstrations and walks that have been ongoing across Thailand since July have escalated in recent weeks. Protesters are calling for another constitution, the dissolution of parliament and resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, just as an end to intimidation of government critics.

An increasingly central demand is the reform of the country’s monarchy so as to curb King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s powers and ensure a true constitutional monarch under a democratic system. Prime Minister Prayut responded to calls for his removal Friday saying, “I won’t quit.”

In a news conference following a special cabinet meeting, Prayut said the cabinet had approved the emergency decree and that it could stay in place for up to 30 days.

“It (the decree) will be used for only one month or considerably shorter if the situation returns to normalcy,” the Prime Minister said. “It doesn’t target harming anyone. Recently who have been hurt? Mostly are the officials. This implies the situation is irregular.”

Prayut also warned youthful protesters not to violate the law and asked the parents to monitor their children. “For those students, should the parents put forth a valiant effort in taking care of their children as I don’t want to see any consequence, it’s quite harmful. I don’t know what the mastermind really want,” he said.

Protesters have turned out in Bangkok every day in the current week since Tuesday and coincide with King Vajiralongkorn’s return to Thailand for a host of royal duties, including marking the remembrance day of his father, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

On Wednesday, thousands of protesters marched en mass from the city’s Democracy Monument and broke through a police barricade to camp outside Prayut’s offices late into the night.

Authorities stepped up security this week, deploying about 15,000 police to control crowds on Wednesday. The Thai Lawyers For Human Rights said that 51 people have been arrested and are facing legal action following the anti-government protests in Bangkok this week.

Among them were several prominent activists including student leader Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, human rights lawyer and protest leader Arnon Nampa, and protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak. Details surrounding the grounds for the 51 arrests have not yet been released.

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