Royalist and conservative members of Thai society have stepped up a pressure campaign to force the Prayut Chan-ocha government to take action against student protesters, sources told Thai Enquirer on Tuesday.
Tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators braved rain and heat to rally in Bangkok this past weekend and called for a change in the way the country is run.
The protesters also addressed topics previously found to be taboo in Thai society including reform of the relationship between the monarchy and governance.
The demands are unprecedented due to the application of lese-majeste laws that blocked the discussion of the monarch and his family previously.
On Monday, Dr Tul Sithisomwong, a leader of a royalist group filed charges against the protest leaders with police for defaming the monarchy.
Tul told reporters that the conduct of the protesters was unacceptable and brought the monarchy into disrepute.
It is likely to be the first of many charges filed against the rally organizers for speeches made during the rally that aluded to the crown.
According to sources within the Palang Pracharat Party, citizen groups run by conservative members of society like Dr Tul’s and official members of organizations within the Thai heirarchy have asked the government to take action against the students.
“There are many in these groups and official organizations that feel that a line has been crossed and the government cannot stand idly by and watch a sacred institution be desecrated,” the MP told Thai Enquirer on condition of anonymity.
“There are people who are very respected in society who have asked us to take action,” he said.
The government has so far not used the lese majeste laws to prosecute rallygoers after Prime Minister Prayut revealed that his majestey King Vajiralongkorn asked the government to stop using the law.
However, critics say that the government has instead pursued other criminal charges against protesters instead including the use of sedition and computer crimes laws.
One of the demands of protesters has been for the government to end its legal and extra-legal harassment of dissidents including an end to abitrary arrests.
The government through Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam on Monday denied any such intimidation and defended the use of sedition laws as part of the legal process.
Wissanu said that there were no legal intimidation of protesters and that the legal system was merely carrying out the law.
According to the source in government, the use of the legal and penal codes against the protesters was “just beginning.”
“With the government under pressure, we will be looking at all legal options to defend the institution,” he said.
Additional Reporting by Erich Parpart.