In Thailand, setback for supporters of monarchy reform

Cold shower for the protest camp in Thailand: the Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday November 10 that the actions of three activists involved in the formulation of a list of “ten demands” for reforms of the royal institution constituted an attempt to overthrow of the constitutional monarchy.

These requests, initially set out by lawyer Anon Nampa and student Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul – the latter even enumerated them on stage within a university campus – date back to August 2020. This moment was to mark the beginning of an unprecedented “rebellion” of students and urban youth against the excessive powers of the monarchy, until then untouchable in the former kingdom of Siam.

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Anger outbursts

« I do not respect the decision of the court … it is unacceptable », Declared the same day the young Panusaya, 23 years old, who had been released on bail but remains targeted by eight charges of lese-majesté. In protest, activists set fire to a reproduction of the “Democracy Monument” in front of the court, which stands at the center of a crossroads in historic Bangkok. Social networks have exploded in anger and protests are expected. The court had been seized by a royalist lawyer.

This decision has serious implications for the ongoing campaign against the lèse majesté law, article 112 of the penal code. Since a large gathering on October 31, and the petition to amend it (more than 223,000 signatures collected), the opposition political parties came out of the woods in the name of the aspirations of the youth. With all possible caution, because attacking this law is also considered unconstitutional: “Don’t destroy what we respect! “, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha warned on November 3.

Local elections slated for the end of the month could serve as a first test of the popularity of the reform proposals. Officials of the Pheu Thai party, linked to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra – overthrown by the army in 2006 – have just said that they want to determine whether “Officials had abused their power” [dans l’usage de la loi de lèse-majesté] ; they also want to debate how to prevent section 112 from being abused to silence political opponents. This is a first: the Pheu Thai, which has the largest number of seats in Parliament, had hitherto promised not to touch the legislation. This update must allow the opposition to propose amendments.

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In Thailand, setback for supporters of monarchy reform

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