Thailand declares state of emergency and cracks down on demonstrators

Thailand declares state of emergency and cracks down on demonstrators

Thailand declared a state of emergency in Bangkok as police and soldiers dispersed demonstrators on Thursday, marking the start of a crackdown on a student-led protest movement. 

In an announcement published on Thailand’s Royal Gazette website, the government said it took the measure because of “an action that had an impact on a royal motorcade” carrying members of King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s family, as well as national security and economic considerations.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha declared the state of emergency after about 10,000 anti-government protesters rallied at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument on Wednesday before marching to Government House, the seat of the Thai government. They broke through police barricades and surrounded the building, pressing their demand for the resignation of Mr Prayuth’s administration.

Protesters also jeered and taunted Queen Suthida, the wife of King Maha Vajiralongkorn. They raised their movement’s three-fingered salute and shouted “Our tax money” as she passed within metres of demonstrators on her way to visiting two Buddhist temples. Taunting the queen is an unheard of affront in a country where the monarchy is shielded from public criticism by strict defamation and other laws.