Thailand’s government said on Tuesday that activists planning protests and events to commemorate the Siamese Revolution of 1932 on June 23 would have to respect the law and listen to security officials that would be present to ensure security and safety.
“We believe that everyone knows their duties, and understands the law,” Kongcheep Tantravanich, the Ministry of Defence spokesman, told reporters.
“Any action within the legal framework is fine, we do not have a problem with it,” he said. “Just do not step over the line and break the law.”
The Siamese Revolution of 1932 overthrew centuries of absolute monarchism and installed a constitutional monarchy. The civilian government was subsequently overthrown by a military coup.
Tensions have been running high in Bangkok after rumours that the military would move into stop planned commemorations of the events and fears that activists would evoke the monarchy in their protests.
Thailand’s monarchy has been protected for years under a strict lese majeste law and is considered by conservative Thais as a sacred institution.
The lese majeste law has been in the news over the past week after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said that the king instructed the government to not prosecute any activists under the law.
The law has been abused in the past by rival political factions to crackdown on dissent and opposing viewpoints.
Thai activists and students have accused the military junta and the current government of using the laws to unfairly prosecute dissidents.
Despite Kongcheep’s statement that operations would carry on ‘as normal,’ an increase in security forces was visible throughout key sites in Bangkok.
Security forces have stopped journalists, including those from Thai Enquirer, from taking photographs of heavily guarded areas including the Royal Plaza on Ratchadamnern and Democracy Monument.
Many officers are stationed around Bangkok's landmarks to prepare for potential protests tomorrow. On 24th June 1932, Thailand transformed from absolutely monarchy to constitutional monarchy. Barriers have been placed at historical landmarks in the city. #คณะราษฎร pic.twitter.com/ih5MHkLmRp— Kittiphum (Earth) (@KEarthling) June 23, 2020
Officers took photos of my press ID and my team. One of the officers said that this is a sensitive time to report on the anniversary and content of the report should be screened thoroughly.#คณะราษฎร— Kittiphum (Earth) (@KEarthling) June 23, 2020
Sources within the military told Thai Enquirer that the government and the conservative institutions within the country had been warned that Wednesday’s activities could be a flashpoint for the resumption of massive protests.