Thai protesters stage anti-government rally despite activists release

Lawyer Anon Nampa and student activist Panupong Jasnok are seen while being transferred to criminal court in Bangkok on Aug 7.
Lawyer Anon Nampa and student activist Panupong Jasnok are seen while being transferred to criminal court in Bangkok on Aug 7.PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - More than 1,000 anti-government demonstrators gathered in Bangkok’s commercial district on Saturday (Aug 8) after protest leaders were held overnight in a police station

Human rights lawyer Anon Nampa, 35, and student activist Panupong Jasnok, 23, were arrested on Friday and held overnight in connection with recent protests demanding greater democracy.

They were released on Saturday under the condition that they did not re-offend. 

"The court’s condition was that the two not repeat actions like allegations from this case," Anon’s lawyer, Weeranan Huadsri, told Reuters, but they could join legal protests.

Charges against Anon and Panupong include sedition and violating an emergency decree imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Anon and Panupong appeared in good health when they exited the court and pledged to continue protesting. 

"We will join protests that are in accordance with the constitution," he said.

On the condition of release and violating article 116 of the Thai criminal code, the equivalent of sedition, he said he has always acted peacefully in accordance with the constitution and that government should stop its harassment. 

Their release, however, did not appease more than 1,000 demonstrators who moved ahead with an anti-government rally in Bangkok’s shopping district. 

"Do not harass the citizens," protesters shouted at a bridge in front the MBK shopping centre despite police appeals to disperse. 

They chanted "Police get out" and "Dictatorship shall fall" and gave the three-finger salutes of pro-democracy protesters who are demanding the dissolution of Parliament, amending the constitution and new elections. 

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.

Demonstrations have returned to Thailand’s streets to call for removal of the government of 2014 coup leader Prayuth Chan-o-cha 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."