Student activists lead anti-junta rally

About 100 people gathered at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument on Thursday when a group of embattled activists from Bangkok and Khon Kaen awaited arrest by the police and rallied against the military regime amid tight security. 
 
On 25 June, 11 anti-junta student activists under the newly founded Neo Democracy Movement (NDM) protested against the military dictatorship at the Democracy Monument, Ratchadamnoen Avenue, Bangkok.
 
The rally began in the afternoon after the group left Suan Ngern Mee Ma, a place under the care of Sulak Sivaraksa, who hosted them the night before. They took a bus to Thammasat University, the 14 October Monument and then the Democracy Monument.  
 
From the 14 October Monument to the Democracy Monument, the activists sang while they walked, holding each other’s hands, while their supporters cheered and sang along. 
 
At the Democracy Monument, group members gave speeches, urging people who share the democratic ideology to take part in the movement and calling for the military government to resign. They harshly criticized the junta for illegitimately stealing Thai democracy and the subsequent suppression of rights and freedoms. 
 
About 20 police officers maintained law and order at the scene, while many more plainclothes police observed and videotaped the scene. 
 
The NDM revealed its demand: the junta must return five principles to Thailand, namely democracy, human rights, justice, and public participation in governance. A clenched fist has been adopted by the group as the symbolic gesture for the fight against the Thai junta. 
 
The rally ended at around 7 pm when the group left the venue on a truck to an undisclosed safe house. The truck was closely followed by plainclothes police in motorcycles.
 
Pansak Srithep, an embattled red-shirt pro-democracy activist and one of the leading members of the Resistant Citizens, told Prachatai that he joined the protest to give moral support to the young blood. “I admire the things they do. They are young and very brave to stand against the military government,” said the red-shirt taxi driver. “Many people share their feeling, but only a few are active.” 
 
Founded on 24 June, the 83rd anniversary of the so-called Siamese Revolution, the NDM comprises activists, mostly students, from across the country who are against the military dictatorship. The group mainly consists of members of Dao Din, the student activists from Khon Kaen province, and the student activists from the 22 May incident at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC).
 
On 22 May, about 40 people were arrested for an attempt to commemorate the coup at the BACC in Bangkok , while seven Dao Din members were arrested for showing a cloth banner to commemorate the coup at Khon Kaen’s Democracy Monument. Nine people from Bangkok and seven Dao Din members are wanted on arrest warrants for violating the junta order which prohibits gatherings of five or more people. Apart from two activists who have already acknowledged the charges before the police, the others have not been arrested. 
 

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