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Thai Authorities Arrest Protesters On Anniversary Of 2014 Coup

One year after an army-led coup toppled Thailand's elected government, authorities detained more than a dozen student activists in the capital and elsewhere for gathering to protest the putsch.

"We invited them to talk but they would not back down so we are sending them to the police," a soldier in the area who declined to be identified was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Reuters reports that among the arrests were 13 members of the Young People for Social-Democracy student group detained in Bangkok and seven student activists in the northeastern city of Khon Khaen who staged small shows of defiance to mark the anniversary of the May 22, 2014, coup against the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Yingluck had earlier been removed from office on charges of corruption, which she and her supporters maintain are politically motivated. Her older brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was also ousted in a coup in 2006.

Since seizing power, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha has clamped down on dissent and issued implied threats to journalists who defy him. He recently lifted martial law but replaced it with an even more draconian order ensconced in the country's interim constitution, which his government — and a hand-picked legislature — approved. The same legislature appointed him prime minister.

Human Rights Watch Asia Director Brad Adams says that a year after the coup "Thailand is a political dictatorship with all power in the hands of one man.

"The date for elections continues to slide, with no certainty when they will happen. Backsliding on respect for basic rights and democratic reform seems to have no end in sight," Adams says.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.