Police Say Current Emergency Decree Still Bans Protests

Anti-government protest in Pathum Thani province on July 23, 2020.
Anti-government protest in Pathum Thani province on July 23, 2020.

BANGKOK — A police spokesman on Thursday said political gatherings are still banned under the Emergency Decree until the extension becomes effective next month.

Despite the government’s insistence that the Emergency Decree will no longer be used against public assemblies, Col. Kissana Phathanacharoen said police will continue to gather evidence and press charges against those who were involved with anti-government protests until the end of this month.

“If the gathering takes place now until the end of July, it’s still considered illegal and violators could face two years in prison and a maximum fine of 40,000 baht,” Kissana said. “We need to wait until the decree extension is officially announced.”

He spoke hours before large anti-government gatherings took place in Khon Kaen, Pathum Thani, and Pattani provinces, where hundreds of protesters chanted and demanded PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign. 

The proposal to extend the decree, which has been extended thrice since it became effective on March 26, was approved by PM Prayut on Wednesday. National Security Council sec-gen Somsak Rungsita said the extension is unrelated to the ongoing protests and the provision banning public assemblies will be removed.

The police spokesman also issued a stern warning to the protesters, saying that they must be within the boundary of the laws.

“I’d like to pass the words to the parents of those youths who participate in the protests that they should warn their children to respect the law,” Kissana said. “If there’s wrongdoing, officials are required to take legal actions against them. This can affect their future and criminal records will stay with them forever.”

Rallies are set to take place in Khon Kaen, Pathum Thani, Ayutthaya, and Rayong provinces today, while more are scheduled across the country until August.