The UK and US governments have urged their citizens travelling through Thailand to take caution as the approaching referendum sees political tension rise in the country. Millions of Thais are set to take to the polls on 7 August to vote on whether they should accept a controversial draft resolution drawn up by the military-backed National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
The UK's Foreign Office issued a travel alert to UK citizens in Thailand, urging them to be wary of political gatherings in the run up to the referendum. Pointing to the 2014 military coup in Thailand, the Foreign Office said that protests in Bangkok at the time had turned violent and there could be a similar situation over the next few days.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: "Political tensions are likely to increase leading up to, and during the polls. You should avoid political gatherings and monitor the advice of local authorities and local media. Certain restrictions, such as on the sale of alcohol, may be imposed at this time."
The UK government also warned Britons in Thailand that a number of media outlets have been taken off air and some internet sites remain blocked, adding: "It is illegal to criticise the coup and you should be wary of making political statements in public."
Meanwhile, the US State Department has also warned its citizens about political gatherings, noting that NCPO had banned these and placed restrictions on the media, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Echoing the UK government's warning, the US State Department warned its citizens from making political statements against the NCPO.
A travel warning for Thailand on the US State Department website noted: "Security forces have additional powers, including the right to control movement and search for weapons. Security operations against possible demonstrations have led to disruptions to traffic as well as to some public transport services, and restricted access to some areas around major shopping and hotel districts in central Bangkok. Additional measures could be enforced at any time."
According to local Thai newspaper Prachatai, the governments of Myanmar and Japan have also issued travel warning to their citizens ahead of the referendum. The United Nations and a number of ambassadors have expressed concern over the clampdown on 'No' campaigners in the referendum, which has seen a number of activists and journalists being arrested.