Thailand’s government banned protests and the publication of sensitive news on Thursday in the face of escalating protests that have targeted King Maha Vajiralongkorn as well as Prime Minister Prayuth Chan’ocha, a former junta leader.
Within 30 minutes of an emergency decree taking effect at 4am, riot police advanced on protesters camped outside Prayuth’s office.
Police said they had arrested about 20 people who refused to cooperate, including two of the protest leaders who have been most vocal in criticing the monarchy, as well as demanding Prayuth’s removal and a new constitution.
To justify emergency measures that include a ban on gatherings of five or more people, the government cited the obstruction of a royal motorcade as well as growing disorder, economic damage and the risk of spreading coronavirus.
“It is extremely necessary to introduce an urgent measure to end this situation effectively and promptly to maintain peace and order,” the decree said.