Protesters dismiss legal threat

Out with the old: An illustration depicting ‘bad students’ charging at ‘dinosaurs’. The Bad Student group reminded lawmakers that if they don’t change thei mindsets, they will be hit by meteors. — The Nation/ANN

THE Free Youth pro-democracy group has urged its supporters not to surrender, after the prime minister declared that “all relevant laws” will be used against protestors.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha warned on Thursday that the government and security agencies would step up law enforcement to handle demonstrators who act illegally and fail to respect other people’s rights and liberty.

The warning came after two days of protest culminated in protesters splashing paint over signs and walls at the police headquarters in Bangkok on Wednesday, in retaliation for a crackdown with tear gas and water cannon on Tuesday.

Responding via social media, Free Youth said Prayut’s threat to use “all relevant laws” would include using the lese majeste law against protesters calling for a more accountable and transparent monarchy.The police on Thursday confirmed that they would use the lese majeste law against protesters if asked to do so.

Free Youth said Prayut’s statement also sounded like a declaration of war by the government against the people.

The group said it was not discouraged by the actions of a “failed government” against peaceful protests such as paint splashing, adding that the future of Thailand depended on all Thai people.

“If we do not fight, we will be slaves for years. Be ready for the actions of the failed government, ” the Free Youth statement said.

Prayut’s words also met with criticism from supporters of the youth-led democracy movement.

“The government has done justice to the paint-splashed signs by cleaning and repainting them.

“But it has not offered justice to the victims of authorities, ” said Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a self-exiled academic living in Japan.

Exiled academic Somsak Jeamteerasakul said Prayut’s statement amounted to a threat to re-impose the draconian lese majeste law, which carries long prison sentences.Activist Sombat Boonngamanong said it was ridiculous to see a prime minister who came to power in a coup using legal means to deal with citizens who only wanted him to resign.

Meanwhile, the “Bad Student” group said in a Facebook post on Thursday that it will hold an anti-government protest with the theme “Meteor Strikes Dinosaurs” in Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong intersection today.

It said the aim of the rally was to remind lawmakers that if they don’t change their outdated, dinosaur-like mindsets, they will be hit by meteors. — The Nation/ANN

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