The big topic of conversation in Thailand is martial law. Technically it’s gone, but in reality it’s still there.
AP, April 1
On Wednesday, Thailand’s junta lifted martial law, which was imposed in the run-up to their May 22, 2014, coup – but then quickly replaced it with another set of draconian laws innocuously called “Article 44.” But make no mistake – 10 months after staging the coup, a military junta is still ruling Thailand, essentially with absolute power.
The move is the junta’s latest cosmetic change aimed at putting a softer face on a military ruled country, according to scholars, jurists and rights groups who called the development a PR stunt and a sleight of hand aimed at helping restore Thailand’s image abroad while keeping the junta firmly in control at home. Others wondered half-jokingly if the government of former army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha pranked the country with an April Fool’s joke.
“Martial law may be lifted, but Thailand remains deeply sunk in unchecked military rule,” Verapat Pariyawong, an independent political analyst and Harvard-educated lawyer said in a statement, noting that the announcement came Wednesday in “ironic fashion on April Fool’s Day.”
Thai junta lifts martial law
Thailand’s military leaders have lifted martial law but critics say new powers are more worrisome
Al Jazeera, April 2
Thailand’s ruling junta said on Wednesday it had lifted martial law imposed just before a coup 10 months ago, but it invoked a security clause in the country’s interim constitution that will mean the military will retain broad powers.
The martial law order banned all political gatherings and gave the military other wide-ranging powers. The order lifting martial law had been expected.
In a televised announcement, the junta said it would be replaced with a special security measure, known as Article 44, which allows security forces to continue to make arrests without a court warrant and to detain people without charge.
Article 44 of the interim constitution gives Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, unchecked authority over all three branches of government and power over all aspects of law and order, as well as absolving him of any legal responsibility for his actions.
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