Thai Army warns protesters against weekend march

Thailand`s Army on Friday warned a group planning a weekend protest against military rule that lawbreakers would face action, as open defiance of the ruling junta appears to be growing in the Southeast Asian nation.

Reuters| Updated: Mar 13, 2015, 15:32 PM IST

Bangkok: Thailand`s Army on Friday warned a group planning a weekend protest against military rule that lawbreakers would face action, as open defiance of the ruling junta appears to be growing in the Southeast Asian nation.

Thailand has been under martial law since a May coup, when the Army seized power from an elected government. The law bans political gatherings of more than five people, but small groups, including university students, have staged public meetings.

`Resistant Citizen`, a group that plans marches in and around the Thai capital over three days from Saturday, has said it will hold gatherings to discuss the state`s disregard for freedom of speech and human rights.

But a Royal Thai Army spokesman warned the group against protesting. "The military wants everyone to respect the law," said deputy Army spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree. "If anyone breaks the law then we will have to take action."

Resistant Citizen, which announced its plans for the march on social media website Facebook, said it was unfazed.

"It is time for people to stand up to find a just path," the group said in a statement. "It is a false belief by soldiers that nobody is prepared to die for democracy."

The march coincides with a planned court appearance on Monday by Siriwit Serithiwat, a student at Bangkok`s Thammasart University who is accused of violating martial law and the terms of a document he was forced to sign last year promising to stay away from political activity.

The group is also protesting a measure backed by the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly allowing the military to detain civilians for up to three months with no judicial oversight.

The Army seized power on the grounds that it needed to restore order after six months of political deadlock. The military detained hundreds of academics, journalists and activists, but released them later.

The group had misunderstood the military court measure, Winthai said, adding, "It is meant for security issues only and is not aimed at detaining citizens."