Two protesters in Rayong province were taken into custody and forcibly removed yesterday after they raised signs condemning the prime minister minutes before his motorcade arrived.
Amid fury in Rayong over government mishandling of an imported case of COVID-19, two people prepared to greet Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha with signs criticizing his government Wednesday were taken into custody.
The two signs read, “If you stay longer, the country would be in ruins. Get out, you bastard,” and “Don’t lower your guard, my ass.” The latter refers to the daily admonishments from health officials for people to “keep their guard up.”
The two men, identified as Nutchanon Payakaphan and Panupong Jadnok, were seen taken away in a Rayong police vehicle. Both of them resisted arrest, asking what crimes they had committed.
“Tell me first what I did wrong?” Nutchanon said. He was put into a headlock by an officer as he was forced into a pick-up truck. Panupong was also being forced by at least five officers into the vehicle.
The two men were charged with violating the Emergency Decree which since March has granted sweeping powers to the authorities, ostensibly to prevent the spread of COVID-19, though it has been criticized as a means to control the public.
The police said they violated the decree and protested in public without permission.
Nutchanon said both men would file charges against Rayong police for assaulting them.
The incident occurred just minutes before Prayuth’s motorcade arrived at the D Varee Diva Central Rayong Hotel, where a visiting Egyptian air crew stayed last week. Despite assurances that strict rules would apply to visiting foreign nationals, the 30+ military personnel were allowed to leave the hotel and go shopping at two malls.
One of them tested positive following the visit, leading to fear of a “second wave” of infections in Rayong. Thailand has not logged any new domestic transmissions in nearly two months.
More than 1,400 residents came out to be tested for coronavirus and more than 200 schools shuttered. Hopes for a tourism recovery in the province have been crushed with 90% of hotel bookings and all reservations for Koh Samet reportedly canceled this week.
This article, Rayong police drag off protesters minutes before PM arrives, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!