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Ultra-Royalists Rally in Bangkok, Demanding Expulsion of Amnesty International

A group of ultra-royalist Thais rallying today in Bangkok Nov. 29, calling for Amnesty International to be expelled from Thailand.
A group of ultra-royalist Thais rallying today in Bangkok Nov. 29, calling for Amnesty International to be expelled from Thailand.

A group of ultra-royalist Thais are rallying today in Bangkok, calling for Amnesty International to be expelled from Thailand and banned permanently from operating here.

Emboldened by anti-West sentiment and the Constitutional Court’s ruling that any call for reform of the monarchy is tantamount to treason, the right-wing zealots are accusing the prominent rights group of being a threat to national security.

Carrying signs that read “Amnesty Get Gut” in English and “Amnesty don’t poke your nose into Thai matters” in Thai, dozens of protesters dressed in yellow protested again in downtown Bangkok, hoping to collect 1 million signatures to a petition to evict Amnesty.

Last week, about four dozen members of the same group gathered outside Government House and submitted a letter to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha demanding the same.

Seksakol Atthawong, an assistant minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, last week submitted his own letter to Prayut, a former army chief who seized power in a coup in 2014, recommending that an investigation be launched into Amnesty International’s activities.

At issue is a recent statement by Amnesty International’s local chapter criticizing a ruling on Nov. 10 by the Constitutional Court that declared calls by pro-democracy activists for reform of the monarchy to be sedition, thereby effectively equating such calls with treason.

Amnesty International has been campaigning for the rights of student activists who have been calling for democratic reforms in Thailand, including a reform of the monarchy, which is officially portrayed as an inviolate pillar of the nation.

In a surprise twist, Anon Saennan, a prominent member of the Red-Shirt Villages of Thailand protest group that opposed the military coup, has said the group will join the royalist campaign to drive Amnesty International from Thailand over its support for the jailed activists who called for monarchy reform.

“We’re answering [Seksakol’s] call and asking red-shirt villages across six regions to collect signatures of those who want to see this organization out of the country,” Anon said.

The original, longer version of this story appeared Friday on UCA News, a Bangkok Herald.