By KASAMAKORN CHANWANPEN,
The NEO Democracy Movement (NDM), a new anti-coup student group made up of Dao Din students and five Bangkok-based students, has said they're ready to be arrested by the authorities and will not seek bail. They say any act taken by the government is illeg
The group marched to Democracy Monument yesterday afternoon to challenge the regime of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, who said one day the students will be arrested if they violate the law.
“Let them make the move and the day they break the law will be the day [they get arrested]. Don’t try to tempt [me],” said Prayut, who asked others not to cooperate with anti-coup students.
“They should ask themselves if their parents are suffering or not? Having to face legal prosecution and being removed from student status. What will their future be?”
The new 30-strong group is a merger of seven Dao Din students from Khon Kaen University and pro-democracy students from various universities in Bangkok. It includes those arrested on May 22 for marking the first anniversary of the coup.
They wrapped the monument with a black cloth with the message “Down with dictatorship, long live democracy” and left at 7pm.
The NDM students declared at a press conference yesterday they would never accept a law enforced by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), as it had come to power via a coup.
“We reject the NCPO’s law and we reject Article 44 enforced by them,” said Rangsiman Rome, a key NDM member and senior law student at Thammasat, adding that it was the NCPO that should be punished for treason.
“Everyone might already know that rebels must serve the death penalty. But look at what they’re doing. They have issued orders and laws. They’re writing their own constitution and say it’s law that is binding on everyone.
“My friends and I, we won’t accept that. What makes people who have committed such a dreadful crime think they can enforce law?” he said.
Twelve members of the group held their press conference at Suan Ngern Mee Ma, an alternative training centre, owned by social critic Sulak Sivaraksa.
Two officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) were present as observers as police surrounded the area.
“We’ll accept arrest, not because we accept their law, but because we can’t resist the NCPO, which has guns, weapons, force and men. They can deprive us of our freedom. They can cage our bodies. But our freedom-cherishing minds will remain free,” Rangsiman told reporters.
NDM said they stand for five principles: democracy, human rights, people’s participation, justice and non-violence.
The students said they had been followed by uniformed and plainclothed police since leaving Pathumwan Police Station on Wednesday night.
Deputy superintendent at Sam Rae Police Station Sangthip Chanarat said officers were just observing the group as no order had been given to arrest the students yet.
Anti-coup activist and red-shirt Sombat Boonngam-anong, who is being prosecuted, posted a warning on Facebook yesterday that arresting the students was likely to spread anti-junta sentiment.
Lawyer Anon Nampa, a member of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, said the students’ decision to not seek bail if arrested showed their willingness to test the legitimacy of the junta, noting it was a symbolic act.