This handout from the Royal Thai Government taken and released on August 13, 2020 shows Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha speaking after a cabinet meeting at the Government House in Bangkok on August 13, 2020. (HANDOUT / ROYAL THAI GOVERNMENT / AFP)
BANGKOK - Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Thursday that all laws would be used against protesters who break them after anti-government demonstrations escalated.
Prayuth's announcement came a day after thousands of protesters threw paint at Thai police headquarters in what they said was a response to the use of water cannon and teargas that hurt dozens on Tuesday, the most violent day of protests since July. Some protesters also sprayed anti-monarchy graffiti.
The situation is not improving.There is a risk of escalation to more violence. If not addressed, it could damage the country and the beloved monarchy.
Prayuth Chan-ocha, Thai prime minister
"The situation is not improving," Prayuth said in a statement. "There is a risk of escalation to more violence. If not addressed, it could damage the country and the beloved monarchy.”
"The government will intensify its actions and use all laws, all articles, to take action against protesters who broke the law," he added.
It did not specify whether this included Article 112 of the criminal code, which forbids insulting the monarchy. Prayuth said earlier this year that it was not being used for the moment at the request of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
"This could mean they are using Article 112 to arrest protest leaders," said activist Tanawat Wongchai on Twitter. "Is this a compromise?"
Although the Royal Palace has not commented on the protests, the king recently referred to Thailand as a "land of compromise".
Outraged by the anti-monarchy graffiti at Wednesday's demonstration, some royalists called for the application of Article 112 in posts on social media.
Dozens of protesters, including many of the most prominent leaders, have been arrested on a variety of charges in recent months, though not for criticizing the monarchy.
A major protest is planned at the Crown Property Bureau on Nov 25. Protesters said there would be seven more days of demonstrations after that.
HONG KONG NEWS