Thailand books pro-democracy activists under controversial law for criticising the royal family

Thailand revived its controversial law against criticising the royal family in an attempt to curb months of anti-government protests.

Several activists have been summoned to face charges under the lèse-majesté law, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison for each count.

On Tuesday, a prominent student activist, 22-year-old Parit Chiwarak, said he had received a summons for lèse-majesté – among other charges – but that he was “not afraid”.

“The ceiling has been broken. Nothing can contain us anymore,” he tweeted, along with a photo of the summons.

At least six other key protest leaders, including human rights lawyer Anon Nampa and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, are expected to face the same charges, according to reports.

Thailand’s lèse-majesté law, which forbids any insult to the monarchy, is among the strictest in the world.

The reintroduction of charges under the lèse-majesté law comes ahead of a planned demonstration on Wednesday at the Crown Property Bureau, an institution that controls the royal fortune on behalf of the monarchy, located in the capital, Bangkok.

This latest development follows increasingly outspoken criticism of the king by protesters.

Last week Thailand’s parliament rejected a reform in the parliament that proposed to abolish the current constitution and pave the way to rewrite a new charter that would cover every chapter, including the monarchy.

How protests began?

Thailand’s student-led democracy movement began in July, they have been calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. The former army chief had seized power in a 2014 coup before he was appointed as premier after controversial elections last year.

The protests have widened in recent months to also call for curbs on the king’s powers.

Demonstrators also demand the constitution be rewritten; that the authorities stop harassing critics and royal reform are particularly sensitive in where criticism of the monarchy is punishable by long prison sentences.

Royalists have come out to oppose the student-led demonstrations, and authorities have tried to crack down on the movement.

They believe the protesters want the abolition of the monarchy, something they deny.