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Thai King faces reality of pro-democracy revolt with new bans on protesters

But protesters shouted at the king’s motorcade on Tuesday after the arrest of 21 protesters. On Wednesday, some protesters slowed a convoy carrying Queen Suthida as they gave a three-finger salute and chanted “get out” at police protecting the vehicle.

The three-finger salute has been adopted from The Hunger Games book and movie and symbolises opposition to the ruling government. Earlier this year, protesters dressed up in outfits that resembled characters from the Harry Potter movies and books.

Protesters hold flowers and the three finger salute. Thousands of anti-government protestors rallied near Government House on the anniversary of a 1973 popular uprising that led to the ousting of a military dictatorship.

Protesters hold flowers and the three finger salute. Thousands of anti-government protestors rallied near Government House on the anniversary of a 1973 popular uprising that led to the ousting of a military dictatorship. Credit:Allison Joyce/Getty Images

The government acted after protesters set up camp outside the Prime Minister’s offices to demand his resignation and after demonstrators obstructed the royal motorcade.

“As it appears that many groups of people have invited and incited illegal public assemblies in Bangkok … acted to affect the royal motorcade and committed severe actions that affected national security … it is extremely necessary to introduce an urgent measure to end this situation effectively and promptly to maintain peace and order,” an announcement on state television said.

It was accompanied by a document setting out measures that took effect from 4am local time to ban big gatherings and allowing authorities to ban people from entering any area they designate.

It also prohibits “publication of news, other media, and electronic information that contains messages that could create fear or intentionally distort information, creating misunderstanding that will affect national security or peace and order”.

Pro-democracy protesters cheer as they "take back" Democracy Monument during the rally.

Pro-democracy protesters cheer as they “take back” Democracy Monument during the rally.Credit:Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images

According to Human Rights Watch, 21 of approximately 200 protesters were arrested including the protest leader, Jatuphat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa on Tuesday.

“The Thai government’s breakup of a peaceful democracy protest at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument just proved the protesters’ point,” said Brad Adams, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“The charges against the protesters should be dropped and they should be immediately and unconditionally released.”

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Prime Minister Prayut is a former military general who took power in 2014 and then subsequently claimed power in a questionable March 2019 election.

After ascending to the throne in 2016 following the death of his much-loved father, the king took personal control of several army units and palace assets worth tens of billions of dollars.

With Reuters

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