Thailand’s PM asks police to not use force against Free People protesters

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed police to exercise restraint in response to any provocation by anti-government protesters, most of whom are university students, and to refrain from using force against them.

The Prime Minister’s instruction came ahead of rallies, planned by rival groups, the “Network of Vocational Students” and the “Free People Movement”, at the Democracy Monument today.
A deputy government spokesperson said today that the Prime Minister also thanked the police for their role in ensuring peace and order at the protest site.

The rival groups showed up at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok this morning, ahead of schedule, reportedly to seize the advantage of space to stage their rallies. The two sides chose locations opposite each other, with the Rajdamnoen Avenue as the demarcation line.

Later in the afternoon, Mr. Sumeth Trakulwoonnoo, leader of the pro-monarchy Network of Vocational Students, said that he decided to end their rally because he was afraid that there might be clashes, after some provocation was reported.

He said his group will lodge a complaint with the national police chief, General Chakthip Chaijinda, supported by evidence, tomorrow, accusing some Free People protesters of offending the Thai Monarchy, whose leaders were scheduled to give speeches tonight on their demand for reform of the Monarchy.

One of the protest leaders, Thammasat University student Prit Chivarak, who was granted bail yesterday by the Criminal Court, appeared at the protest site as promised.

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