More than 20 protesters arrested in Thailand

Thai police arrested more than 20 people under sweeping new emergency measures Thursday, with pro-democracy activists reporting a handful of high-profile leaders were among those detained.

The arrests came after thousands gathered in Bangkok, including on the route of a royal motorcade, with many raising a defiant three-fingers.

The salute, borrowed from the “Hunger Games” books and films, has been harnessed by the youth-led movement as a symbol calling for democratic changes.

Some protesters have also demanded reforms to the kingdom’s monarchy — a once-taboo issue because of stringent royal defamation laws.

The anti-government demonstration continued through the night and before dawn Thursday authorities issued an emergency decree banning gatherings of more than four people.

“More than 20 people were arrested,” deputy police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen said.

Kissana added that student leaders issuing calls to gather for a fresh protest on Thursday “are committing wrongdoings”.

Moments before her own arrest was livestreamed, prominent student leader Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul said human rights lawyer Anon Numpa and student leader Parit Chiwarak, better known as “Penguin”, were among those detained.

The new measures — which extend the scope of a state of emergency imposed on Thailand to control the coronavirus pandemic — allow police to arrest those involved in the protests, according to a government statement.

They also outlaw online posts deemed a threat to national security and give powers to authorities to seize “electronic communications equipment, data, and weapons suspected to cause the emergency situation”. (AFP)