Fourteen student protestors were released from prison this morning by Thai authorities after being held for nearly two weeks. The students were charged with sedition and gathering illegally in public after staging a peaceful protest in Bangkok.
But this is not the end of their troubles, the Associated Press reports: the Thai government is still intent on taking them to court. A government spokesperson warned the students against more protests.
"Even though they will be released, it doesn't mean the case is concluded," deputy government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd told the Associated Press. He also warned the students to not "create chaos in society."
Thai reporter Anuthee Dejthevaporn posted these pictures of the protestors just after their release from prison:
International sentiment in support of the students picked up over the last two weeks:
They also have supporters in Thailand:
Human Rights Watch condemned their arrest and the fact that the charges have not been dropped. In the lead-up to this week's decision, the United Nations and the European Union had called for their release, the Guardian reports.
“The prosecution of students for peaceful protests shows that the military junta has no intention of easing its oppressive rule,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, wrote on the group's website. “Gagging public protests makes a mockery of the junta’s self-proclaimed commitment to return to democracy.”
In May of last year, Thailand's military, under General Prayuth Chanocha, staged a coup. The students are among the dissidents who do not believe this government has a legitimate claim to power. Though the military government has promised democratic elections, the Associated Press reports that they have so far refused to commit to a specific date. Meanwhile, the leadership has been making moves to reduce the power of elected officials in the Thai constitution.
Since taking power, the junta–a group of military leaders who took control of the government by force–has banned public gatherings of more than five people, according to Human Rights Watch. But after their release this morning, one of the protestors told a local Thai news outlet, VoiceTV21, that they would continue to stage peaceful protests: