Rallies Now Banned Under Emergency Decree

Protesters in Thailand

Defence Forces chief Gen Chalermpol Srisawat has issued an announcement under the emergency decree banning gatherings that risk spreading COVID-19.

The move comes as political demonstrations have intensified recently with a new one planned for Saturday by the anti-government Free Youth group.

The rally will take place at Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue and demonstrators will then proceed to the Grand Palace, according to the group.

The ban was published in the Royal Gazette on Tuesday and signed by Gen Srisawat in his capacity as the person responsible for resolving emergencies related to security. The ban was issued under Section 9 of the emergency decree. According to the announcement, the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of abating with the emergence of new variants of the virus that spread easily, causing daily infection numbers to soar.

Public Health officials say daily caseloads will surge unless action is taken to restrict people’s movements and gatherings, according to the announcement.

Under the announcement, any gatherings that risk spreading the disease or any action that worsens the hardships of people during the pandemic are prohibited nationwide, except for gatherings or activities that are permitted by authorities or exempted by the emergency decree.

The ban applies to areas that have been designated as maximum and strict control zones, maximum control zones, maximum surveillance zones and surveillance zones. Violators are liable to a jail term of no more than two years, a fine of more than 40,000 baht or both.

Deputy police spokesman Pol Col Siriwat Deepho warned against anyone joining political demonstrations, saying they will not only risk contracting the disease during rallies but also face legal penalties under the ban and other laws.

Five groups held demonstrations on Sunday including a car mob rally which gathered near the Veterans General Hospital on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road. Protesters threw firecrackers at police who fired rubber bullets and used tear gas and water cannon on protesters.