BANGKOK, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- Thailand's Civil Court on Wednesday ruled that the emergency decree imposed in Bangkok and adjacent areas cannot be used as a reason to crack down on anti- government protests.
The court also banned the use of force against protesters, citing demonstrations have so far been held in a peaceful manner, the Nation newspaper reported.
But the court refused to revoke the emergency decree as former Democrat MP Thaworn Saeniam had requested.
Several thousand protesters on Wednesday besieged the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defense, which caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has used as a temporary workplace, to demand Yingluck to step down. But Yingluck failed to show up.
The protesters were also joined by hundreds of farmers who traveled from the Commerce Ministry to pressure the caretaker government to make overdue payments owed under the rice-pledging scheme.
Reportedly, the farmers have locked up the gates of the Commerce Ministry with chains to prevent civil servants from working there.
Later in the day, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban pledged to escalate the protest to a new level and attack businesses of the Shinawatra family.
It is reported 182 protesters, who were detained during a police operation on Tuesday to retake five rally sites in the capital, have been released on bail. But the requests to release two protest leaders have been rejected.
A clash occurred between the police and protesters during the police operation, leaving five people dead and 70 others injured.