BANGKOK: Police in Thailand on Wednesday arrested two pro-democracy student protest leaders for taking part in rallies and would charge them with sedition, expanding a crackdown on demonstrators as pressure builds against the government.
Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree of the Free Youth Group and his partner Panumas Singprom were arrested at their residence in Nonthaburi province on the outskirts of Bangkok and taken to a police station.
“We got arrested with many charges, but the most severe one is (under) Article 116,” Tattep told reporters, referring to the sedition law.
He was seen flashing a three-finger salute, a symbol of the movement, when he arrived at the police station.
The two were among 15 people charged in connection with a July 18 rally for breaching internal security laws and defying an emergency decree, which banned public gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Pawinee Ghumsri, lawyer for Tattep and Panumas, said the pair deny the charges and would seek bail.
Protesters have staged rallies almost daily for the past month in Thailand against the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seized power in a 2014 coup.
Some of those demonstrators have called for reforms of the country’s monarchy, a taboo topic in a country that has a strict law that punishes perceived royal insults by up to 15 years in prison.
Other protesters have vowed to move ahead with a planned demonstration on Sept 19, the anniversary of an earlier coup in 2006.
Thai police on Tuesday arrested human rights lawyer Anon Nampa for the third time over his participation in anti-government protest on similar charges. He was later released on bail.
Police have arrested student leaders, rappers and activists for participating in demonstrations, but they have not been charged under the ‘lese majeste’ law.
Those arrested so far have all been released on bail.