Thailand PM says all laws to be used against pro-democracy protesters

Thailand PM says all laws to be used against pro-democracy protesters
The protests are the greatest challenge to Thailand’s establishment in years and have broken a longstanding taboo by criticizing the monarchy. (AFP)
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Updated 19 November 2020

Thailand PM says all laws to be used against pro-democracy protesters

Thailand PM says all laws to be used against pro-democracy protesters
  • Activists voiced concern that this could mean the resumption of prosecutions under some of the world’s harshest royal insult laws

BANGKOK: Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Thursday that all laws would be used against protesters who break them, as demonstrations escalate for his removal and for reforms to curb the powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Activists voiced concern that this could mean the resumption of prosecutions under some of the world’s harshest royal insult laws.
The protests are the greatest challenge to Thailand’s establishment in years and have broken a longstanding taboo by criticizing the monarchy, which can carry a jail term of up to 15 years.
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,” 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.”
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 the king.
“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” – a phrase that has been treated with scorn by protesters.
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 over the management of the palace fortune, which the king has taken into his personal control. The fund is valued in the tens of billions of dollars.
Protesters said there would be seven more days of demonstrations after that.


Greece, France to sign $2.8 billion fighter jet deal amid Turkey tensions

Greece, France to sign $2.8 billion fighter jet deal amid Turkey tensions
Updated 25 January 2021

Greece, France to sign $2.8 billion fighter jet deal amid Turkey tensions

Greece, France to sign $2.8 billion fighter jet deal amid Turkey tensions
  • Florence Parly, the French defense minister, signed the agreement in Athens to deliver 12 used and six new aircraft
  • France has sided with Greece in a dispute with Turkey over boundaries in the Aegean Sea and eastern Mediterranean

ATHENS, Greece: Greece signed a 2.3 billion-euro ($2.8 billion) deal with France on Monday to purchase 18 Rafale fighter jets, as tensions remain high with neighbor Turkey.
Florence Parly, the French defense minister, signed the agreement in Athens to deliver 12 used and six new aircraft built by Dassault Aviation over two years, starting in July.
France has sided with Greece in a dispute over boundaries in the Aegean Sea and eastern Mediterranean that has brought NATO members Greece and Turkey to the brink of war several times in recent decades.
Tension spiked again last summer when a Turkish exploration mission in disputed waters triggered a dangerous military build-up.
Greece and Turkey have agreed to restart talks aimed at resolving the dispute peacefully. Senior diplomats from the two countries met in Istanbul Monday to resume the process that had been interrupted for nearly five years.
But Athens says it will continue a multibillion-euro program to upgrade its military following years of cuts due to the country’s financial crisis.
France and the United States are in competition to provide the Greek navy with new frigates, while Greece’s government recently approved plans to cooperate with Israeli defense electronics firm Elbit Systems to create a new military flight academy in southern Greece.
“The upgrade in the capabilities of the Hellenic Air Force by means of both the acquisition of new fighter aircraft and the new state-of-the-art training center is critical for Greece to present a credible deterrence,” Michael Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, told The Associated Press.
“It also provides Athens an enhanced ability to exercise more strategic autonomy when EU and NATO frameworks are deemed inadequate, making Greece more of a player in its own right.”
Starting in May, mandatory national service in the Greek Armed Forces will be increased from nine to 12 months to boost the number of people serving in uniform. While in Athens, Parly will also holding talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.