BANGKOK – The Royal Thai police announced Thursday that they are searching for a man who claims to be cruising the streets of metro Bangkok looking to shoot those who defame the monarchy.
The incident is the latest in a series of incidents where those seen as not supportive of the continuing mass wake for King Bhumibol Adulyadej have been targeted with violence.
.A 12-minute video uploaded to Facebook shows the clearly distraught man driving a car with two handguns at his side. He alternates between crying and threatening to kill anyone caught defaming the late king.
â€œThe king is gone, why are you still criticizing him? If you donâ€™t love the king I donâ€™t mind but I love him,â€ he says.
â€œWhy are you defaming the king? I feel like crying. If I see these foul-mouthed people, I will shoot them all.â€
On Thursday, Lt-Col. Pongsiri Kengnok told Khaosod news site that police are trying to find him.
“We will first try to verify if the guns are real and whether or not he has a license,â€ he said.
â€œThere must be more than circumstantial evidence to determine whether the man intends to kill someone.”
The original video was deleted but has since been reposted and widely shared.
The incident occurred as junta chief-cum-prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha warned against punitive actions by the public targeting critics of the monarchy.
Since the king’s death Oct. 13, there have been multiple incidents of people accused of posting insulting comments about the monarchy on social networks or of having behaved offensively towards the royal family.
Over the weekend, the houses of two people who posted comments on the late king were surrounded by angry crowds, while on Sunday, a 43-year-old woman was forced to kneel in front of a portrait of the king after an â€œinappropriateâ€ Facebook post. The incidents have continued through this week.
On Monday, an elderly mentally ill woman was removed from a bus by police and slapped across her face by another passenger after mutterings about the king, while Tuesday saw a man violently beaten by a crowd after a Facebook post.
His head and face bloodied, he was forced to bow in front of a portrait of the king.
On Wednesday, Government spokesman Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said â€œDonâ€™t try to provoke conflict and donâ€™t get the monarchy involved in any conflict. Now is the time for all of us to unite,â€
“He added that the junta leader underlined that â€œit is [still] wrong for the public to use violence against them.”
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has pleaded with supporters of the Monarchy not to take law into their hands against those suspected of insulting the revered institution, saying that they should leave the matter to be handled by law enforcement officials.
Meanwhile, according to Thai Police Chief Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda 12 people have been charged with lese-majeste since the king’s passing.
Earlier this week, Thailand’s Minister of justice Gen. Paiboon Koomchaya encouraged foreign countries to deport lese majesty offenders back to Thailand.