Five pro-democracy leaders reported to Thai police this Monday, 1 December, to face accusations of lese majeste, a controversial and wide ranging anti-defamation law that prohibits criticism of Thailand’s royal family and threatens any offender with up to 15 years in prison.
This is the first time in more than two years that the law has been used, indicating that authorities are becoming increasingly agitated with the demonstrations. The protests have been ongoing since early 2020. Initially triggered by the dissolution of the Future Forward Party (FFP) in late February, they were first aimed at the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, but have since then expanded to include the unprecedented demands for reform of the Thai monarchy. In recent months, the country has been shaken by heavy criticism of the monarchy and demands for the king to relinquish some of his power and wealth. Vajiralongkorn succeeded his father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in 2016. Since then, he has taken direct control of the palace fortune, worth tens of billions of pounds. Additionally, in 2019, he brought the 1st and 11th Infantry regiments under his direct command, allowing him to sidestep the usual military chain of command.