Two Thai activists arrested for ‘violence against the queen’ — life in prison possible for both

Bunkueanun Paothong, one of activists arrested, speaking to Khaosod English (see video below)

As Thailand continues to descend into dictatorship under prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, two prominent Thai pro-democracy activists have been arrested for what authorities call ‘violence against the queen’.

That violence? Surrounding the queen’s car as it drove through the protest route.

The two Thai activists — Ekachai Hongkangwan and Bunkueanun Paothong — surrendered themselves to Thai authorities early on Friday morning.

They now face a possible sentence of life in prison under a law that has not been used in Thailand for decades. The law punishes anyone who is found guilty of an ‘act of violence against the queen or her liberty’.

The charges came after pro-democracy protests on Wednesday near Bangkok’s Government House. The queen’s motorcade drove through the protests, and some protesters crowded around the motorcade.

Queen Suthida is a former Thai Airways flight attendant and the fourth wife of Thailand’s King Vajiralongkorn.

Thailand’s pro-democracy activists — mainly high school and university students — are calling for prime minister Prayut Cha-o-cha to resign.

They are also asking for the abolition of Thailand’s lèse-majesté law — which shields the monarchy from criticism — and for the royal family to stay out of politics. (article continues below…)

Large Ratchaprasong protest defies Prayut’s State of Emergency ban on gatherings

Thailand’s lèse-majesté has been used to stifle opposition against the government for decades, but no more so than during the current junta government of Prayut Chan-o-cha, which has been in power since a military coup overthrew the government of Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014.

Under the current government, the law is being used to prevent free speech and to threaten and jail opponents.

Meanwhile, Bunkueanun Paothong, one of the men accused of assaulting the Queen spoke to Khaosod English reporter **Pravit Rojanaphruk this morning before he surrendered himself to police.

He explained what he says really happened as the Queen’s motorcade drove through the protests.

Events that are far different than what authorities now say occurred.

Khaosod English themselves say their “reporters at the scene did not witness Ekachai or Bunkueanun throwing any objects at Her Majesty the Queen or trying to reach the motorcade”.

**Khaosod Reporter Pravit Rojanaphruk has been arrested by Thai authorities for sedition several times himself since the coup, for lèse majesté once, and has even been detained for ‘attitude adjustment’ by the junta.