The government of Thailand has announced a ban on gatherings of more than five people under an emergency decree, and arrested several prominent protest leaders in a tight handed bid to stop pro-democracy protests that have gripped the country for more than three months.
The decree, which came into effect in the capital Bangkok at 4 a.m. local time Thursday October 15, was enforced after thousands of protesters marched from the city’s Democracy Monument and broke through a police barricade to camp outside Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s offices late Wednesday, calling for Prayut’s resignation and reform of the monarchy.
“As it has appeared that there have been several groups inviting, inciting and committing illegal assembly,” the decree read.
“There have been activities which affected the public’s peace and order.”
The government also revealed that another reason for the emergency decree was protesters obstructing a royal motorcade.
Footage from the scene showed police pushing back protesters who were shouting and making the defiant three-fingered salute from the “Hunger Games” movies as a car carrying Queen Suthida and King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s youngest son, Prince Dipangkorn, slowly drove past.
“Therefore, there are enough grounds to believe that violent acts have been committed. And this has affected the government’s stability, safety, property and staff. This is no longer a peaceful assembly as it should be warrant by the constitution,” the decree added.