CHIANG RAI – Although the northern provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are some of Thailand’s biggest tourist hubs, Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha’s brother Lt.Gen. Preecha said that lifting martial law in the region would “provide an opportunity for the dissent movement to campaign openly.”
“Therefore, we have decided not to repeal martial law over the provinces that the 3rd Region Army is responsible for,” he said.
Lt.Gen. Preecha said Northern Thailand is considered the heartland of the Redshirts, a political faction that supported the deposed government and largely opposes the military coup, reported in the Khaosod News.
Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, imposed nationwide martial law on 20 May, two days before staging a coup d’etat. Last week, a high ranking officer said the junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) planned to lift martial law in 22 provinces with popular tourist attractions.
Since imposing martial law in May, the NCPO has invoked its special powers under martial law to ban public demonstrations, arbitrarily detain hundreds of Redshirt activists and leaders, and try dissidents in military court. Activists in Chiang Rai province were among the first to receive martial court sentences for organizing anti-coup demonstrations.
Martial law also grants the military the authority to enforce a curfew, censor the media, and conduct searches without warrants. In addition, it prohibits individuals from claiming compensation for damages that may result from the exercise of these powers.