By KASAMAKORN CHANWANPEN
'PROTESTS NOT BENEFICIAL', PRAYUT WARNS, |AS YOUNGSTERS SHOW UP TO FIGHT BACK
A GROUP OF students wanted by the authorities for protesting against the junta showed up at Pathumwan Police Station yesterday to deny the charges against them.
Of the 14 present, seven were Dao Din activists, who were there to offer moral support.
Some Bangkok-based university students filed complaints against police for alleged abuse of power after their heavy-handed arrest for protesting against the first-year anniversary of the May 22 coup in Bangkok.
The move came as Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha urged people to stop protesting, saying the country was dying.
“Why do they keep on protesting?” said Prayut, mentioning the name of group incorrectly. Be it Dao Fah or Dao Nam Ngern it won’t be beneficial. I think the country cannot move because [people] don’t understand what sort of situation we’re in now…”
The students arrived at the police station around 1pm, as they had said they would earlier. But instead of reporting to the police and acknowledging the charges against them, they said they were there to file complaints for alleged police assault and abuse of power on May 22. The crowd grew to about 200 to 300 by the evening, with some 50 police officers guarding the premises.
The police refused to let them inside the station or to accept their complaints – while the students insisted police had to allow the crowd to enter the station’s vicinity to ensure the students’ safety.
Human Rights lawyer Kritsadang Nootcharat, who represents the group, said he was authorised by them to file charges against the police.
Rangsima Rome, one of the accused students, insisted the group would not acknowledge the charges against them, believing they had not done anything wrong or acted against the law.
“We are here to report the police who assaulted us on May 22. And we will not acknowledge any charges pressed against us. We do not accept the power the military robbed from the people,” Rangsima said.
He added that their group, the Neo-Democracy Movement (NDM), was determined to fight against injustice. Yet he also conceded they were ready to be taken by the police.
Anon Nampa, a pro bono human rights lawyer with the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, said lawyers were ready to post bail if the 14 students, including the Dao Din members, were to be arrested.
“The lawyers are now standing by at the military court. If the [arrest] warrants are issued, we are ready to bail out all the students.” Anon said the group helped bail out one female member of the group, Natcha Kong-udom, a student at Bangkok University, who was arrested earlier.
The group and their supporters took to the stage and the open space behind Samyan Market as a temporary base to deliver political speeches expressing their stance and to deny the charges against them.
They also sang Thai and international songs with messages of liberty and solidarity including “Starlight of faith” and the Les Miserables stage play’s “Do you hear the people sing” to keep up their morale.
Some supporters shouted to cheer the students up and denounce the junta, the National Council for Peace and Order. Also, more than Bt10,000 was donated to the NDM for opposing the junta.