The protestors gathered at the 14 October 1973 Memorial which commemorates civilian protestors who lost their lives in the 1973 uprising against the Thai military dictatorship.
Another group assembled outside the United Nation’s office at Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue and submitted an open letter asking the international community to pressure the government to revoke the law provided under Section 112 of the Thai Criminal Code.
The move came after several student protestors were charged with the offence of speaking out against the monarchy and demanding greater governmental accountability in recent demonstrations. The law shields the royal family from censure or scrutiny and is often deployed to suppress protests for democratic reform. By virtue of its vague wording, lèse majesté allows authorities to widely interpret the provision against political dissenters and was famously used to persecute critics of the military’s 2014 coup d’etat against a democratically elected government.
The protestors see the lèse majesté law as a serious legal barrier to citizen’s freedom of speech as well as their right demand truth and justice. They also launched a website to campaign against the law during the demonstrations on Thursday.
The Thai authorities are formally invoking the law for the first time after 2017. However, similarly vague legislations such as the Computer Crimes Act and the sedition law under Section 116 of the Criminal Code have been in regular use to crack down upon democracy protestors.
The King, Maha Vajiralongkorn, instructed the government in July not to enforce lèse majesté on compassionate grounds, but the stance has now changed and the Prime Minister appears to be carrying out his November threat to use all possible laws against protestors of the monarchy.