BANGKOK: On Wednesday afternoon, students from schools and universities came together to protest for changes to the Thai constitution to allow for greater democracy following the dissolution of Thailand’s new political party Future Forward which is supported by proportionately by a younger, educated and urban section of the Thai public and in particular students because of its progressive policy platform.  

A network of flash mobs organised by student activists has been protesting this week at schools and universities in Thailand against the decision to dissolve the Future Forward Party which was handed down last Friday afternoon by Thailand’s Constitutional Court. The rallies are being discreetly monitored by police who have pointed out that while the right to protest exists in Thailand, such assemblies have not been legally authorised.

Police Colonel Krishna Phatthanacharoen, Deputy Spokesman for the Royal Thai Police, confirmed that the protest activity was ongoing and that police were monitoring proceedings to ensure that order is maintained and that the activity does not infringe the rights of others. He pointed out that the activity is not legal even though the right to protest exists in Thailand. He also warned that care must be taken to make sure that the activity does not become seditious.

Student flash mobs including both high school students and university students have broken out in Thailand at various schools and institutions.

On Tuesday, a deputy spokesman for the Royal Thai Police confirmed that student flash mobs had assembled in Bangkok and many universities in the provinces.

Protests are linked to the dissolution of the Future Forward Party by a Thai court on Friday

The protests are believed to be against the 7 to 2 decision on Friday to dissolve the radical Future Forward Party which garnered over 17% of the first preference votes in the March 24th election last year and took 81 seats in the House of Representatives.

The decision was made on the recommendation of the Election Commission, a statutory body which found that a ฿191 billion loan from the billionaire leader of the party, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, was both illegal and an abuse which disadvantaged other political groups.

On Friday, the Constitutional Court emphatically ruled that this was the case and even underlined grounds for criminal prosecution of the party’s 16 member executive including Mr Thanathorn

Senior police officer warns about activity that may be seditious or a threat to national security

On Tuesday, Police Colonel Krishna Phatthanacharoen said that police in uniform and plainclothes were monitoring the activity.

He accepted that there is a right to protest in Thailand and to express political opinions but observed that such rights must be exercised in such a fashion that does not endanger state security or infringe on the democratic rights of others. He also warned that such activity must not be seditious.

Police recording the activity

He pointed out that police are keeping a record of the protest activity which is still ongoing and would do whatever it takes to maintain the peace.

Colonel Krishna also pointed out that such protests normally require official permission under the law. 

All girls school comes out on the street

On Wednesday afternoon, it was reported that students from the all-girls institution Satriwithaya School were gathering at the well known Democracy Monument in the city which is situated directly opposite the school in the heart of Bangkok.

Protesters also including students from Srinakharinwirot University, a public teaching university

One student admitted that she was somewhat nervous about the activity. ‘It’s not that we’re not afraid. But we have to come out. If we fail to do it today, we don’t know when a more appropriate time will be. After all, the fire of democracy has been lit,’ she asserted.

The iconic focus of protests since 1940

The location has been a focus of many protests against governments in Thailand since it was established at that point in 1940 to celebrate Thailand’s status as a constitutional monarchy after 1932.

‘We came today not on behalf of the school but as members of a new generation who don’t want the monument to be just a place where vehicles make U-turn. ‘ one young girl told the Thai publication Matichon Online.

It is reported that the school had banned the rally on its grounds but students decided to take their activity to the monument to make their voice heard.

Young woman says that the protest are in defence of democracy and they are also patriots

The young woman insisted that the decision to protest by the students was a principled one and in defence of democracy.

She told the newspaper interviewer that this did not mean that the students gathered did not love their country or were not patriotic. ‘We insist we do not chang chart [meaning to hate Thailand]. What we hate is a dictatorship,’ the young woman asserted.

Motion of no confidence in the government

The protest is coming at a time when Thailand’s parliament is debating a motion of no confidence in the government with fiery and passionate contributions from both sides of the political divide. The kingdom is also making defensive preparations against the Convid 19 virus which is an imminent danger and threat facing the country.

It should also be noted, for balance, that the governing party Palang Pracharat which supports incumbent Prime Minister General Prayut Chan ocha, won a by-election on Sunday in Kamphaeng Phet in the upper centre of Thailand.

Rolling and ongoing flash protests planned

On Wednesday, young protestors sang the national anthem to show their sense of patriotism. They were joined by universities and schools throughout Bangkok and the country in a peaceful protest at the dissolution of the radical Future Forward with its progressive agenda in Thai politics.

It is understood that the rallies and protests will continue on Thursday and into the future on a rolling basis with different venues and locations.

Further reading:

Thai health boss strongly warns against public protests or political gatherings at this critical time

Future Forward Party dissolved – leadership banned from politics by Constitutional Court order

Police monitoring network of pro-democracy rallies

+ Police monitoring network of pro-democracy rallies in schools and universities this week supporting Future Forward – rolling protests in Bangkok and provinces. O' Connor reports from Bangkok

Posted by on Wednesday, February 26, 2020