Thai police arrested a rapper and four pro-democracy activists in a crackdown on growing protests that have emerged as the most serious threat to the government led by a former army general they accuse of incompetence and corruption. Among those arrested is Dechathorn Bamrungmuang, a key member of Rap Against Dictatorship. He posted photos Thursday on his Facebook page of being taken to a police station for processing. The activists facing sedition charges have called on Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his administration to resign. The protests, fanned by thousands of students, are the most serious threat yet to an ex-army chief who seized power in the 2014 military coup and then retained it in a 2019 election widely seen as rigged to guarantee his victory.With key Cabinet posts still in the hands of former generals, the opposition to the military´s continuing influence and Prayuth´s leadership has grown louder. “If we carry on protesting just within our school grounds, other people won´t be aware of it. The wider we spread awareness the better for the cause,” one 15-year-old high-school protester said. The protests have declared three core demands: holding new elections, amending the military-imposed constitution and ending the intimidation of critics of the government.Protest leaders triggered controversy earlier this month when they expanded their original agenda, publicly criticizing Thailand´s constitutional monarchy and issuing a 10-point manifesto calling for its reform. Their action was virtually unprecedented, as the monarchy is considered sacrosanct and any criticism is normally kept private. A lese majeste law calls for a prison sentence of up to 15 years for anyone found guilty of defaming the king.One of the activists who allegedly made critical remarks, Arnon Nampha, was arrested Wednesday and charged with sedition and violation of a public assembly law for participating in a Harry Potter-themed protest on Aug. 3. Three other political and labor activists also were also arrested Wednesday, according to the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. They were charged with sedition and other offenses related to a protest in July. The group also tweeted that Arnon was denied bail and will be brought to the criminal court Thursday morning.Human Rights Watch said in a statement that Thai authorities should drop all charges and release the detained pro-democracy activists.“The Thai government´s repeated promises to listen to dissenting voices have proven meaningless as the crackdown on pro-democracy activists continues unabated,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch.