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Anti-government demonstration staged after activists arrest in Thailand 

Photograph: Panupong Jadnok, left. (Courtesy thisrupt.co)

Over 1000 anti-government protesters rallied in Bangkok’s commercial district on Saturday, after two protest leaders were arrested by Thai authorities and held overnight. 

Human rights lawyer, Anon Nampa, and student activist, Panupong Jadnok, were charged on Friday and held because of their connection with a series of protests demanding the ousting of a conservative government led by pro-military politicians and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha. Both were released on bail on Saturday. 

Pending further investigation “the court’s condition was that the two not repeat actions like allegations from this case,” said Anon’s lawyer, Weeranan Huadsri, but they could join legal protests. 

Charges against Anon and Panupong include sedition and violating an emergency decree imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus. Anon was wanted for breaching article 116 by “raising unrest and disaffection” in a manner likely to cause a disturbance on July 18th, when protesters gathered at the largest demonstration since the pandemic began at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument. 

Anon called for reforms of Thailand’s powerful monarchy at a protest on Monday, a sensitive topic in Thailand, but the arrest warrant did not refer to that. 

“The police showed Anon an arrest warrant in front of his house and took him to the police station,” Weeranan Huadsri, a lawyer from the lawyers’ rights group, told Reuters. 

Their release did little to appease more than 1000 demonstrators who pressed forward with an anti-government rally. 

“Do not harass the citizens,” protesters shouted at a bridge in front the MBK shopping centre despite police appeals to disperse, as well as “Police get out” and “Dictatorship shall fall” with many showing the three-finger salutes of pro-democracy protests. 

Demands are being made for the dissolution of parliament, amending the constitution and new elections. Demonstrations have returned to Thailand’s streets to call for the removal of the government of 2014 coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha after a disputed election last year that activists say was engineered to ensure his hold on power. 

“We cannot stand the tyranny and oppression that is being inflicted on the Thai people,” said 22-year-old student Pattanun Arunpreechawat. “We have to come out to show that.” Police Colonel Patikorn Sornchai said the protesters were clearly breaking the emergency law on Saturday after being told to disperse and they would be investigated.

See more from Reuters here.

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