Thai Police officers appeared at the Progressive Movement office on Friday afternoon with a search warrant, interrupting a press conference called by Piyabutr Saengkanokkul. Bangkok police, from Makkasan station, walked into the press conference room at the Thai Summit building.
They were armed with a search warrant issued under the Prime Minister’s state of emergency.
At the time, Mr Piyabutr was at the podium speaking against the state of emergency. Furthermore the legal action taken against protesters accused of causing harm to Her Majesty the Queen.
“I am here to check on law and order within my jurisdiction,” a police officer said.
The search at the Progressive Movement premises was the first since the emergency decree was issued in Bangkok. The emergency decree was issued by the Prime Minister about 4am on Thursday.
The police officer walked out of the press conference room, and then returned to talk with Mr Piyabutr. He is the co-founder of the political movement. Their talk was continuing at time of this press release.
Mr Piyabutr urged the police officers to stay with the people, instead of following orders from the Prime Minister.
The emergency decree, formally approved by the cabinet on Friday, bans meetings of more than four people. It also gives authorities power to ban any action deemed to be causing a public disturbance.
Demonstrators online will be arrested
Thai Police have warned that people will be arrested if they take part in demonstrations prohibited by the state of emergency, or if they post illegal messages online. Pol Maj Gen Yingyot Thepjamnong, the Thai police spokesman, said on Friday that law enforcement was being intensified against Bangkok demonstrators who broke the law.
The emergency decree bans public gatherings of more than four people. “Rallies cannot be organised. Thai Police will take legal action. Offenders must be prosecuted.
“Legal action can be taken retroactively. It will be done in compliance with human rights and international principles,” he said.
Pol Maj Gen Yingyot said seven demonstrators were arrested at the Ratchaprasong intersection political demonstration on Thursday night. Rally leader Panupong Jadnok, aka Mike Rayong, had not been arrested, but was being followed by detectives.
Pol Col Siriwat Deepor, deputy spokesman, said people who post information online that is false, affects security or leads to uncontrolled violence will be considered in violation of the state of emergency and the Computer Crime Act. They were liable to a prison term of up to five years and/or fine up to 100,000 baht.
Thai Police also announced on Friday that they had closed roads leading to Ratchaprasong intersection and banned vehicles carrying stages, loudspeakers, toilets and consumer goods from entering specific areas.
According to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, 51 people were arrested during demonstrations this week.