Thai protesters vow new demonstration despite crackdown

Thai protesters vow new demonstration despite crackdown”

The government has announced plans to take legal action against Twitter and Facebook accounts announcing the protests.

Human Rights Watch on Saturday warned the emergency decree gave police "the green light to commit rights abuses with impunity" and called for global condemnation.

Despite a brutal crackdown by law enforcement authorities on Friday, Thai pro-democracy protestors have said they will hold another demonstration in Bangkok on Saturday.

Calls have also built for reforms to the monarchy, which is accused by protesters of helping to entrench decades of military influence in politics.

The emergency decree was issued after groups of people calling themselves "Khana Rassadorn 2563" (2020 People's Party) had instigated people to come out to gather in Bangkok on several occasions, according to the announcement. "They are expecting heavy-handed response this evening from the police", Cheng said.

At least three protesters sustained slight injuries and five officers were admitted to the police hospital in Friday's clashes, authorities said.

On Thursday, Prayut had imposed an emergency decree banning gatherings of more than four people, but about 10,000 ignored the measure, demonstrating late into the night.

The prime minister is a former military ruler, whom critics accuse of interfering with a general election a year ago to maintain power as a civilian.

Unlike on Friday, when riot police blasted protesters with water cannons before advancing into crowds with shields and batons, the security presence on Saturday was light.

"The dictatorial government is using violence to disperse the people's movement", one of the protest's leaders Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree told Reuters on Friday, hours before he was arrested along with six other people.

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The underground metro system in the Thai capital of Bangkok has been completely shut down amid ongoing protests and the related state of emergency, operating firm MRT said on Saturday.

A Thai journalist was also briefly detained during Friday's protest, according to his online news outlet, Prachathai.

Protesters have also rejected last year's election which was won by former army chief PM Prayuth alleging that it was rigged in his favour.

Both men could face life in prison under a law that has not been used for decades and punishes any "act of violence against the queen or her liberty".

Youth-led protests have grown into the biggest challenge in years to a political establishment dominated by military figures and the Royal Palace of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Immediately after the ban, tens of thousands of people protested in Bangkok in defiance.

"The (use of force) will increase the numbers of protesters", said 21-year-old Nine, an engineering student. Police were seen pushing back protesters as the auto, which also carried King Maha Vajiralongkorn's youngest son, Prince Dipangkorn, slowly drove past.

Protesters demand the removal of Prayuth, who first took power in a 2014 coup. The call by the protesters for reform of the monarchy has significantly raised the political temperature in Thailand.

Amongst the key activists and protest leaders who were arrested on Thursday was Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul. "It's a defeat for all Thais", government spokesman Anucha Burapanchaisri said in a statement. "Only governments should be afraid of their people".

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