Gloves Come Off as Military Makes Its Point in Thailand
If Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s sudden announcement of his coup at a meeting on Thursday originally billed as an attempt to reconcile opposing political leaders came as a shock, then his severe wielding of his now royally-endorsed powers has sent a chill through a society that has long seen itself as open, easy-going and hospitable.
The junta has banned gatherings of more than five people, blocked television stations and websites and warned the media not to question its actions. It has detained scores of politicians, activists and others, while those who have since been released have been notable for their silence. Some critics have gone into hiding and others are now nervous about being quoted by name for fear of persecution - attitudes more familiar from President Bashar al-Assad’s Syria than a country with pretensions to being a beacon of democracy in a region not short on autocratic regimes.