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Protests

Heightened security at Thai parliament ahead of Thursday’s pro-democracy protest

Maya Taylor

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Heightened security at Thai parliament ahead of Thursday’s pro-democracy protest | The Thaiger
Construction work at the Sappaya-Sapasathan building - PHOTO: Supanut Arunoprayote / Wikipedia
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Security is being tightened to the highest level around Thailand’s new parliament building, in advance of Thursday’s planned anti-government protest. The protest was announced on Sunday as the weekend’s anti-government rally came to an end around Sunday lunchtime. Additional measures to beef up security include the readying of an evacuation helicopter, in the event that officials need to “take flight”. But, in a gesture of goodwill, the government is planning to lay on food stalls and toilets for the protesters.

The Sappaya-Sapasathan building, where officials plan to debate a re-writing of the constitution, is not yet finished, with Assembly Secretary-General, Sorasak Pienwech, pointing out the facility cannot currently cope with thousands of protesters. He has put forward a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that protesters delay their rally by about a year.

“If the mob waits for a year, everything will be better.”

According to a report in Coconuts, Sorasak says the increased security around the building will in no way prevent protesters from exercising their right to freedom of speech. In addition to the helicopter on standby, extra police officers are being drafted in, as well as a 24 hour security patrol along the Chao Phraya River.

The Sappaya-Sapasathan building was announced as the site for Thursday’s rally by protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak during the weekend. Part of the group, the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, he says the protest at the new home of the Thai parliament aims to pressure the government into making real change as it debates the re-drafting of the country’s constitution, which is scheduled to start on Wednesday afternoon. The existing charter was penned by the military government and voted on in a 2017 referendum. It was widely seen as a document which cemented much of the NCPO’s power and to maintain a quasi democracy in Thailand for the next years. The reform of the Thai charter is one of the key demands of pro-democracy activists.

A mass protest over the weekend attracted around 30,000 supporters and passed off peacefully. However, the protest leaders now face charges of violating the country’s strict lèse majesté law, which prohibits criticism of the Thai monarch or royal family. Several are also expected to be charged for installing a commemorative plaque at an historical site (Sanam Luang) without permission. The plaque carried a declaration that Thailand, “belongs to the people”, but was removed the same night after it was installed, although no one has yet claimed responsibility for the removal.

SOURCE: Coconuts

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Protests

Four released, three re-arrested, drama outside the Bangkok Remand Prison

The Thaiger

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Four released, three re-arrested, drama outside the Bangkok Remand Prison | The Thaiger

Another evening of drama, but this time not in the streets but during the release and re-arrest of several of the key anti-government protest leaders. 3 of 4 protest leaders who were released on bail by the Criminal Court yesterday, after the court rejected a police request to keep them detained on remand, were re-arrested. The court rejected a police request on grounds that it was “unnecessary for them to be detained further” and that the court “must consider the rights and liberties” of the detainees “who are still students”.

Just moments after their release police placed more charges on them before they were able to walk from the jail to awaiting family and crowds of supporters.

The only protester to walk free was Patiwat Saraiyam who was released from the Bangkok Remand Prison early last evening with no other charges awaiting her.

The re-arrest of Parit “Penguin” Chivarak, Panupong “Mike Rayong” Jardnok and Panasaya Sitthijirawattanakul was strongly objected to by the the protesters’ lawyer, Noraseth Nanongtoom. He claims that the police action was unlawful, because the arrest warrants, issued by the police in 3 provinces, were invalid after the 3 protesters had acknowledged, but denied, all the charges. He said that they would resort to “civil disobedience” claiming their re-arrest was illegal. He said he would petition the court to free the 3.

None of the 3 protesters were allowed to meet with their lawyer before the charges were laid.

The warrants for arrest were filed by police in Ayutthaya, Ubon Ratchathani and Nonthaburi provinces.

The police’s re-arrest of the 3 protest leaders also caused drama among their families, friends and supporters, who were waiting outside the Bangkok Remand Prison, in some cases travelling for many hours to get to Bangkok, to welcome their freedom, after hearing about the court’s order granting them bail.

In the developing chaos outside the remand prison “Penguin” ripped off his shirt and Panusaya took to the PA system that had been provided by the growing number of supporters . They pledged to keep protesting peacefully and challenged their re-arrest.

More drama followed when “Mike Rayong” was carried, clearly compromised and slumped in the arms of a police officer, from a police van that had brought him from the remand prison to the Pracha Chuen station station before being taken away in an ambulance. He is said to be in a satisfactory condition at the Praram 9 Hospital, recovering from what police described as a “minor scuffle”.

To date, around 80 people have been arrested in connection with protests staged around the country, mostly in Bangkok. Most are now free on bail but a handful remain behind bars.

In other news the Appeals Court has rejected a bail application for protest leaders and human rights lawyer Anon Nampa, citing his release could lead to his participation in more unrest or an attempt to flee. Anon was arrested and charged over various transgressions at the Thammasat University campus and nearby Sanam Luang on September 19 and 20.

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Protests

Some Thai students decide to boycott their graduation

The Thaiger

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Some Thai students decide to boycott their graduation | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

Their Majesties the King and Queen of Thailand will attend Thammasat University’s graduation ceremonies tonight and tomorrow evening. But there’s been a growing contingent of graduates who are boycotting the ceremony as a personal protest in relation to current rallies around Thailand about government and constitutional reform.

The night, the biggest night of a student’s schooling, is a special event for many Thai students when a member of the Royal Family frequently attend the ceremonies to confer the degrees in a parade of passing students.

The protests, that started back in July by a core of university students, openly mentioning the reform of the Thai Monarchy for the first time, have now morphed into a common thread of discussion in social media. The role of the Thai Monarch, in the past a taboo topic for polite conversation in Thailand, is now being subjected to frequent media coverage and discussion.

Usually a night to remember for many students, it’s not completely uncommon for graduating students to miss the commencement ceremony. The highly choreographed graduation ceremonies are voluntary although the chance to accept their certificate from a member of the Royal Family, including the photo that would take pride of place in homes around Thailand, is usually not passed up.

Now a rump of students, not only at Thammasat, are taking the opportunity for a significant personal protest, and deciding to forgo the ceremonies and make their own symbolic statement about the current protest issues. In most cases the events involve an entire day of rehearsals, culminating in mere seconds as they receive their rolled-up certificate in a regimented, solemn and formal ceremony. There can also be quite a lot of costs involved with the hiring of graduation garments with strict dress codes surpassing the wardrobes of many of the young students.

One post itemised the costs including up to 500 baht for a new skirt, a 1,000 baht for hair and grooming, including a hair cut and dyeing their hair back to black if they’d decided to go ‘colour’ during their studies, and a pair of shoes for up to 1,000 baht. Then there’s make-up fees, a photographer (some graduation photos can be ‘event’ in themselves), both adding another 6,000-10,000 baht to the costs.

Some protesters earlier this month announced on social media posts that they were missing their graduation describing it as a “superfluous and onerous event”. Although plenty of graduates have missed the ceremonies in the past for various reasons, now they’re posting about their boycott, complete with explanations calling for reforms for the role of Thailand’s Head of State.

Some graduates have also taken to social media explaining why they will be attending the graduation ceremonies, in most cases saying they will attend for the benefit of their parents.

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Protests

Court rejects bid to arrest activists who led march on German Embassy

Maya Taylor

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Court rejects bid to arrest activists who led march on German Embassy | The Thaiger
Monday's gathering at the German Embassy in Bangkok - PHOTO: เยาวชนปลดแอก - Free YOUTH

A bid to apprehend 5 anti-government activists, who led a march to the Germany Embassy on Monday from the Sam Yan intersection, has failed, after a court in Bangkok rejected a police application for arrest warrants. The Bangkok South Criminal Court has turned down an application from Pitak Suthikul, acting superintendent of Thungmahamek police in Bangkok.

Pitak had requested arrest warrants for Passarawalee Thanakijwibulpol, Korakot Sangyenpan, Chanin Wongsri, Cholathit Chotsawas, and Benja Apan, who would have faced charges of sedition and other offences, if taken into custody. However, the court told officials to instead issue a summons, given that the protesters are students who only gathered for a short time and are unlikely to flee.

On Monday, protesters marched to the German Embassy to submit a petition calling on the country’s government to investigate whether Thailand’s Head of State conducted official business while in Germany. The German government has responded to confirm there has been no violation of the country’s ban on conducting foreign politics on German soil.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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