Redshirt Ex-Leader Tells Students Not to Touch Monarchy

Anti-government protest in Chiang Mai province on July 19, 2020.

BANGKOK — Former Redshirt leader Jatuporn Prompan on Thursday warned student protesters to steer clear of the monarchy in their anti-government rallies.

Jatuporn said the students should stick to their three demands to the government and refrain from criticizing the royal institutions. His comment came after many protesters were seen holding up placards critical of the monarchy, an outlawed taboo in Thailand.

“Anyone who incites or supports actions beyond the three demands knows that at the end there will be violence,” Jatuporn said. “All the legitimacy will be gone. However, if they adhere to the three demands, it will be the students’ strongest position.”

The ex-leader of the Redshirt movement was speaking at the Parliament, where he also met the House Committee on Reconciliation.

His comments echoed a similar warning by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who on Tuesday said students must not defame the monarchy in their activities.

“I’d like them to be careful not to violate [the monarchy],” Prayut said. “I think the people wouldn’t tolerate their actions and allow that kind of thing to happen again. It’s not appropriate for our country. I don’t want to talk too much about this.”

Criticism of the monarchy was openly displayed at student-led protests over the weekend, albeit masked by slangs and internet codewords. One of the protest organizers said he cannot interfere with what protesters say.

“We’re not in the position to decide which message is appropriate,” Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree said on Monday. “The protesters have to bear the consequences, but this shows that society still needs a space that allows its members to express their opinion even on sensitive issues.”