Opinion: The government’s emergency decree isn’t to protect the monarch, it is to protect themselves

If you saw the videos, you will see that no one was blocking the royal motorcade; the protestors did not even know that they were coming.

If you saw the planned routes, you would ask why the police led the motorcade through a crowd of protestors on Phitsanulok Road when other ways would be much faster and safer.

If you watched live around 5.30 p.m. on Wednesday, you would have seen that Ekkachai Hongkangwan and Bunkueanun “Francis” Paothon were not doing anything to harm the Queen’s liberty at all.

At that time, the police and protestors were scattered on the road in front of the Government House, as some groups of protestors had already arrived after their march from the Democracy Monument ahead of the main crowd.

Francis was giving a live interview to a news agency before the police started forming up lines in the middle of the road again, and at that point, no announcements were made that the royal motorcade would be passing through.

After the interview, Francis was seen standing alone on the street while yelling at the police via a microphone, thinking that the police would charge at the protestors.

Again, no one knew what was going on while protestors started to gather next to him. Without warning, the police then charged at the protesters before people realized that it was the royal motorcade behind the police.

By that time, Ekkachai and Francis have already been pushed aside along with other protestors as the police formed a human chain to make way for the motorcade.

They were not near the car, and they were not throwing anything.

So to say that somehow the student protesters were responsible is laughable, if anything the police and the people planning the motorcade should’ve taken into account the protests and diverted. After all, the protection of the monarch is paramount so why risk the situation at all?

Then to impose the “Declaration of a Serious Emergency Situation in Bangkok” is laughable because it so clearly is an excuse for a government increasingly under pressure.

This was an intentional move by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha’s administration to discredit the pro-democracy protestors and regain the draconian powers of the junta.

Additionally, Ekkachai and Francis do not deserve to go to jail for the rest of their lives for something they did not do.

They should not have been charged with the violation of Section 110 of the Penal Code, which, if found guilty, could have both of them incarcerated for at least 16 years or up to life in imprisonment.

That is more severe than the punishment of Section 112.

If showing a three-finger salute could land you in jail for life, there would not be enough jail cells in Thailand to hold all of the country’s pro-democracy protestors.

So far, the state of emergency, the serious emergency, the Computer Crime Act, 116, 112, and now the first use of 110 have been wrongly used as political tools to silence dissidents under the Prayut administration.

Hundreds of people have been charged with violating the state of emergency even though the government said they were using it to prevent Covid, not protestors—many more from the Computer Crime Act of 2017.

More than a dozen university students, activists, and musicians have also been charged with sedition or 116, which carries a maximum penalty of up to 7 years.

All they were doing was organizing, making speeches, and performing at pro-democracy rallies. If that is enough to land you in jail, then the government is more vulnerable and desperate than we thought.

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