Police arrested student political activist Jutatip Sirikhan on Tuesday, September 1, who was a key organizer of anti-government protests that took place in July and is the president of the Student Union of Thailand. Sirikhan was arrested by a plain-clothed police officer under charges of breaching internal security and coronavirus disease (COVID-19) regulations after helping to organize the July 18 student protest. Several other student leaders, protesters, and rappers have been arrested on similar charges since July in Thailand, with all having since been released on bail.
Further related political protests are possible given that student groups have been demonstrating almost on a daily basis since July demanding a new constitution and to end military influence over politics in the country. A heightened security presence and localized transportation disruptions are anticipated in the vicinity of any demonstrations.
Public opposition to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's government over spending, the dissolution of an opposition party, and other factors has been growing in recent weeks. Activists have also called for reforms to the powers of the monarchy. Increasingly large demonstrations have been held in Bangkok and other locations across Thailand in recent weeks, with counter-protests in support of the monarchy also being held.
On August 8, student groups officially launched the Free People group, which has grown out of the previous Free Youth movement responsible for much of the recent protest activity. On August 16, 10,000 people took part in a demonstration organized by the group in Bangkok, one of the largest protests to be held since the coup in 2014. At least ten people were arrested by police. Protests organized by student groups have since been occurring in Bangkok on a near-daily basis.
Those in Thailand are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments, and refrain from discussing politically sensitive topics in public or on social media.
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