The government of Thailand has imposed a state of emergency in a bid to end three months of student-led street protests calling for reforms to the monarchy and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. Early Thursday, the state arrested at least 20 activists and two of the movement’s leaders.
The ruling prohibits gatherings of five or more people and the publication of news or online messages that could harm the security of the nation.
Protests have escalated over the past three months and on Wednesday tens of thousands of people embarked on a march in Bangkok, the capital, setting up camp outside Government House, the prime minister’s office. The government announced that it also acted after demonstrators obstructed a royal motorcade.
Videos shared widely on social media showed police protecting the royals’ yellow car as it moved through crowds of citizens holding their arms aloft in the three-finger salute that has become the sign of the democracy movement and shouting their demands.
“It is extremely necessary to introduce an urgent measure to end this situation effectively and promptly to maintain peace and order,” state television indicated.
The announcement was accompanied by a document setting out measures that took effect from 4am local time (21:00 GMT) banning large gatherings and allowing authorities to ban people from entering any area they designate.
It also bans “publication of news, other media, and electronic information that contains messages that could create fear or intentionally distort information, creating misunderstanding that will affect national security or peace and order.”