Despite crackdowns, reports of growing public opposition to military takeover
Military leaders in Thailand assumed all political power in the country on Saturday after dissolving the country’s Senate, the last democratic institution left standing after the military seized power two days ago.
According to reports, former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is being held in a “safe place” after being summoned on Friday along with nearly 200 others, including prominent politicians, outspoken academics and journalists, said to be “political associates” with the ruling party.
The Bangkok Post reports:
Those who refused to attend were threatened with jail and/or fines, but some were refusing to comply. Among them was Pheu Thai Party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan, who was believed to be hiding somewhere in the Northeast, and prominent Japan-based Thai academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun.
The military is currently detaining more than 100 of the 155 people it summoned earlier, mainly politicians. It says they are being treated well and will be released in a few days when the situation calms down. The detentions have drawn condemnation from international human rights groups as well as the UN.
Further, the Bangkok Post notes that “curbs on the media appear to be tightening,” with international news channels including CNN, BBC, CNBC and Bloomberg remaining off air.
Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha announced this week that the takeover was “necessary” for maintaining peace and order in a country that has been racked with protests and volatile political disputes for the past six months.
However, according to Reuters, public opposition to the military takeover has been growing with small protests popping up throughout the country on Saturday.
The military has banned gatherings of more than five people, censored the media and imposed a 10 p.m to 5 a.m. curfew, but that has not stopped some from showing their disapproval.
About 200 people gathered outside a mall complex in north Bangkok early on Saturday, holding up handwritten slogans such as “Anti the Coup” and “Get out Dictators”.
Police tried to move them on, a Reuters reporter said. The crowd, with young men on motorcycles leading the way, then moved south to the Victory Monument but police lined up across the road to try to block them. There was some pushing and plastic water bottles were thrown.
About 100 people also gathered in a nearby shopping area and
some on pedestrian overpasses. Soldiers dispersed the crowd, detaining several people, a Reuters photographer said.
About 200 people gathered for a second day in Chiang Mai, Thaksin’s hometown, and there were some scuffles. Soldiers detained five people, a Reuters reporter said.