A new anti-government hashtag, #ตํารวจระยองอุ้มประชาชน (Rayong police abducts its citizens), is now trending on Twitter after the arrest of two young protesters in Rayong calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-Ocha ahead of his visit to the province.
The two protesters, Mike and Nont, were holding signs mocking and criticizing the government’s foul-up in bringing COVID-19 to their province. They were forcefully arrested by Rayong police before being released.
The hashtag, which started trending on Wednesday evening, has now prompted over one million tweets.
This is not the first time the Thai government has forcefully abducted political activists.
Recently, activists in Thailand have blamed the government for the disappearance of Wanchalearm Satsakit who was taken from his apartment in Cambodia last month.
Wanchalearm was an outspoken critic of the Prayut coup government.
The two Rayong protesters, upon release, have subsequently filed charges against the Rayong police on four accounts:
- Detaining and restraining freedom
- Improper performance of duty
- Body harm
The police department has also responded with three charges against the two protesters:
- Violation of Emergency Decree
- Interruption of performance of duty
- Escaping arrest
The government’s recent foul-up with COVID-19 in Rayong forced over 120 schools to close. It has also severely impacted the province’s tourism sector as 90 per cent of hotel bookings and reservations were cancelled this week following the incident.