Protesters warned of harsh action, move to invoke new emergency decree


BANGKOK, Feb 21 – Protesters were warned today of harsh legal action if they intrude into the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) as the government is contemplating a new emergency decree to deal with the escalating political unrest.  

Tarit Pengdith, Department of Special Investigation (DSI) director general and CMPO member, said the authorities would slap criminal charges against protesters who invade the CMPO office.

He admitted that police could not stop protesters’ demonstrations on the streets in light of the Civil Court’s ruling which grants constitutional rights to public demonstrations.

Paradorn Pattanatabut, secretary general of the National Security Council (NSC), said an intrusion into the CMPO office, located inside the Police Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road, would clearly be a criminal offence.

He said police have difficulties in maintaining public order thanks to the Civil Court’s unclear verdict.

The CMPO has mapped a three-step measure in dealing with political unrest, starting with enforcement of available laws in a normal situation, to imposing the Internal Security Act to control an escalating situation.

In case of violence, the government may resort to the third step by revoking the present emergency decree and invoking a new one to allow the authorities to deal with protesters without having to abide by the Civil Court’s nine-point order.

The court’s order would become invalid when the present emergency decree is revoked, he said, adding that caretaker Cabinet would be asked to declare a new state of emergency, if necessary.

Two senior police officers met with key leaders of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) at the entrance to the CMPO office this afternoon.

The police officers explained the authorities’ action against protesters on Phan Fah Bridge, Ratchdamnoen Avenue, on Tuesday, saying police wanted to avoid violence.

The police officers agreed to assign police forces to be on guard at a nearby tollway for the safety of protesters who have demonstrated in front of the CMPO office.

Meanwhile, supporters of the pro-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) laid a wreath at the Civil Court to call for justice given the court’s ruling on Wednesday which barred CMPO from dispersing protesters who have been involved in peaceful political activities.

Darunee Kritbunyalai, a leading Red Shirt supporter, said the Civil Court’s latest ruling contradicted an earlier one in 2010 in which 89 people were killed and more than 1,000 others injured in a political protest.