Supporters gather at court as protest leaders arrive for monarchy insult hearing

Thai protest leaders attended court on Wednesday (February 17) after four others were denied bail for allegedly insulting the monarchy. Footage from outside the Bangkok Criminal Court shows supporters printing t-shirts calling for the abolition of Thailand’s lese majeste law. Thirty alleged protest instigators attended the hearing this morning to hear charges related to political rallies. Military rulers have stepped up their prosecution of anti-establishment protest leaders in recent weeks. On Monday, the Court of Appeals rejected the bail requests submitted by the four suspects – Arnon Nampa, Parit Chiwarak, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, and Patiwat Saraiyam. They will be detained under royal insult charges for their protest on September 19 until a trial date is fixed. A court statement read: ‘The actions cause damage to the monarchy, which is widely revered and worshiped. They had no fear of the law and hurt the feelings of loyal subjects in Thailand.’ Anti-establishment protests erupted across Thailand towards the end of 2020. Activists are calling for sweeping social reforms including the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a new constitution and reforms to the monarchy, which is the wealthiest in the world and commands vast power within the country.