Nation could be ‘engulfed in flames’ as crackdown online spreads, Prayuts warns

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Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha issued his sternest warning to protesters still demanding his resignation, saying they created deeper tensions that could cause the country to collapse. If we continue to publicly surmount each other, the country would crumble, Gen Prayut told reporters. If that happens, just wait and everyone’s going to be on fiery ground, engulfed in flames.

Comments come after a month of almost daily rallies led by students calling for his ouster, a new constitution and fresh elections, with some drawing more than 10,000 protesters. Some of those demonstrators have openly called for reforms of the country’s monarchy, a taboo topic in a country with a strict law punishing perceived royal insults with up to 15 years in jail. He is at his wits end, Gen Prayut added

Police expanded a crackdown on protest leaders with the arrest of Free Youth Group Tattep Ruangprapaikitseree and Panumas Singprom.

Separately, a minister said the government is pushing for the removal of 1,000 online posts, videos and other content that breaks the law after Facebook vowed legal action over a group discussing the monarchy’s censorships.

A private group called “Royalist Marketplace” on Facebook had more than one million members posting about the royal family before it was blocked Monday in Thailand. The giant of social media said the government was compelled to block the group and is preparing to challenge the move.

The offending pages allegedly broke the Computer Crimes Act, which has a maximum sentence of five years in jail and is often used to stifle online dissent. According to the minister, they have not violated anyone’s rights. But if they break the law they will face legal action.

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