Half a year after the coup d’état in May, martial law is still in place and all kinds of political expression against the junta, no matter how peaceful, are still not tolerated by the military regime. Similar to people who swiftly reacted against the military during the first few weeks after the coup with rallies, raising three-fingered salutes taken from the Hunger Games, or holding blank sheets of A4 paper, the paranoid military regime still arrests and detains people for ordinary actions.
However, as it has become clearer that the junta’s direction of national reform in education, public health, land ownership, tax, and energy would benefit certain groups in society more than others, people are again expressing their stance against the junta in various ways. Although these anti-junta actions have resulted in intimidation, arrest, detention, and lawsuits from the military, the junta’s draconian measures to suppress people who simply want to exercise their basic rights only drive more people against the regime.
Some of the latest acts of defiance against the military regime that were quickly quelled by the junta are:
November 4: 12 civil organizations based in Isan, the northeastern region in Thailand, issued an open letter titled ‘No Reform Under the Boot of the Military’ to denounce the junta’s legitimacy, the National Legislative Assembly, the National Reform Council, and the imposition of martial law. The statement accused the junta of using the martial law to limit public participations in national reform while trying to issue policies, which benefit the investors rather than the poor. Later, members of these organizations were summoned by the junta for ‘attitude adjustment’.
November 9: The Northern Peasant Federation organized rally to urge the junta to abolish the “Return the Forest” policy, which affected thousands of poor people who have been evicted from protected areas. The rally, however, was forced to be cancelled by the military. Four participants of the rally, including Prapart Pintobtang, a political scientist from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, were briefly detained by the military.
November 19: Five student activists from the Dao Din group, a student activist group based in Khon Kaen University in Thailand’s Northeast,gave three-fingered salutes and wore t-shirts with a message reading ‘No to the coup d’état’, in front of Prayut Chan-o-cha, the head of the junta, while he was giving a speech in Khon Kaen Provincial Hall. They were later arrested and detained at the military camp. The military tried to force the five to sign an agreement not to get involve in any future political movement. However, only two out of five conceded to the order.
November 24: The police arrested eight student activists at Thammasat University after they distributed leaflets featuring a poem by Chit Phumisak, the late Thai poet and communist rebel, which reads "In an era of darkness, rule is by the gun, but people will still be people." The poem has become a talk of the town recently after Somak Jeamteerasakul, Thammasat historian, who now lives in self-exile in France, featured the poem on his Facebook cover.
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