Protests are set to continue following Parliament’s decision yesterday to reject a draft charter amendment submitted by human rights non-profit group iLaw, with the backing of over 100,000 signatures. Protest leader Jatupat Boonpattarasaksa says the rejection, which happened after the first reading of the bill, has left activists with no choice other than to continue the protests. He added that he would not take part in any reconciliation committee, saying the government had its chance yesterday.
Other protest leaders and groups echo his sentiment, with the Free Youth group accusing parliamentarians of serving a “dictator”, and ignoring the demands of the Thai people. The Thai PM was never voted for by the Thai electorate, but nominated by a joint sitting of bath Houses of Parliament. The Thai senate are all hand-selected to serve by the former military junta, the NCPO.
The reality is that the proposed amendment was doomed before it was even presented to Parliament. As are most of the other amendments which would seek to alter the status quo – a quasi democracy with a Charter that codifies the incumbents (aka. Thai military) to run the country.
Meanwhile, protest leaders urged supporters not to do anything to provoke officials, with some accusing the authorities of setting a trap for protesters. Protest leader Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, aka, “Rung”, said activists would not break into Royal Thai Police headquarters, while human rights lawyer Anon Nampa instructed protesters to refrain from throwing paint at the portrait of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit The Queen Mother, at RTP headquarters. Anon says activists should focus on the police and not fall into a trap that was being intentionally set.
Fellow protest leader, Parit Chiwarak, aka “Penguin”, claims that officials are deliberately trying to rile protesters in the hope that anger will turn them violent. He says that such a development would only lead to yet another military coup and has warned activists to remain peaceful regardless of what provocation is thrown at them.
Meanwhile, Yingcheep Atchanont from iLaw says that, despite rejection of the draft, the will of the people was able to get it in front of Parliament, with several MPs expressing support for some parts of it.
“The vote was by MPs, not the people as such. So, we don’t really have to pay much attention to that. We, the people, were responsible for proposing the draft, which is now complete.”
In the end, after a 2 day parliamentary session, only 2 of 7 draft charter amendments were passed, which were drafts prepared by coalition parties and opposition parties. As the debate took place yesterday, thousands of protesters took to the streets, marching to the national police headquarters, where some threw paint at the sign at the gates of the HQ. Meanwhile, extra riot police were drafted in at the palace and King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital.
Activists at police headquarters were attempting to hand in a letter calling on officers to take responsibility for their actions the day before, when tear gas and water cannons were deployed against protesters. Around 55 people were injured in the ensuing melee, with Bangkok’s Erawan Medical Centre saying 6 people were shot, a claim denied by the police.
Meanwhile, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says officials will not rely on any special laws to manage anti-government protests, which he claims are turning violent.
“Please understand that under this situation, it’s necessary to enforce the law. However, it isn’t necessary to employ any special laws to contain the situation.”
Last night, protesters ended their rally just before 9pm. They have confirmed that another protest will take place at the Crown Property Bureau on November 25.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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