- Demonstrators in Thailand used a Harry Potter-themed rally to protest against “lese majeste” laws, which bans criticism of the royal family and means any defamatory comments can lead to 15 years in prison.
- Channel News Asia correspondent Saksith Saiyasombut tweeted that an organiser of the demonstration told him: “Bringing democracy to Thailand shouldn’t be wizardry.”
- Lawyer Anon Nampa told Reuters: “Talking about this is not an act to topple the monarchy, but to allow the monarchy to exist in Thai society in the right way and legitimately under a democratic and a constitutional monarchy.”
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Demonstraters in Thailand protested against defamation laws regarding the Thai monarchy on Monday at a Harry Potter-themed rally.
Some dressed as Hogwarts students and wore Gryffindor and Slytherin-themed scarves and ties. All wore face masks.
Speakers at the anti-government rally, held at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument, have demanded changes to the Thai royal family, and want King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s powers to be softened.
Defamation against the royal family is punishable by up to 15 years in prison due to their “lese majeste” laws. In 2017 a 34-year-old man was sentenced to 35 years in prison for insulting the monarchy on Facebook.
As reported by Reuters, police said that they would investigate any suspected offences, but they did not stop speakers or protestors themselves despite the defamation laws.
Protestors carried signs reading “trans witches are witches” and “trans wizards are wizards,” and said they were: “Casting the Patronus Charm to Protect Democracy.” They also dressed a straw-man as Voldemort.
The rally-goers also held wooden sticks in the air, as well as phones with their lights on, replicating what the staff and teachers of Hogwarts did after Dumbledore was killed in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”
The protestors themed their rally as “Harry Potter vs You-Know-Who/He-Who-Must-Not Be Named,” with an organiser of the demonstration telling Channel News Asia correspondent Saksith Saiyasombut: “Bringing democracy to Thailand shouldn’t be wizardry.”
As the anti-govt students protests continue, the activists have decided to mix it up a bit: today’s theme is “Harry Potter vs You-Know-Who
— Saksith Saiyasombut (@SaksithCNA) August 3, 2020
Reporter and producer Ryn Jirenuwat wrote that a leader of the protest said: “Someone in power will probably ban Harry Potter novels in Thailand by now.
“Someone in the background said ‘That’s fine. J.K Rowling is a homophobe.'”
A protest leader said: “Someone in power will probably ban Harry Potter novels in Thailand by now.”
Someone in the background said “That’s fine. J.K Rowling is a homophobe.”
— Ryn J. (@Ryn_writes) August 3, 2020
Students from Mahanakorn and Kaset universities requested the government pay attention to their protests, and urged them to reform the “lese majeste” laws that outright ban any criticism of the monarchy.
According to Reuters, Lawyer Anon Nampa told the group of approximately 200 demonstrators: “Talking about this is not an act to topple the monarchy, but to allow the monarchy to exist in Thai society in the right way and legitimately under a democratic and a constitutional monarchy.”
Ratchada Thanadirek, a deputy government spokeswoman, said that it was the police force’s choice on whether or not to act against the ralliers. According to Al Jazeera, Thanadirek said: “The government wants the young protesters to observe the laws so that they can continue to exercise their rights to make their demands and the country can stay peaceful.”
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