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People write post-it notes to support jailed anti-junta activists

Crowds gathered in central Bangkok to show support for the 14 detained anti-junta activists amid a heavy presence of police and military officers in and out of uniform.

On Friday evening, 3 July 2015, a large crowd gathered on the pedestrian bridge in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) in central Bangkok for an event called “Post-It Notes for Freedom” to support the 14 embattled anti-junta activists who have been detained since 26 June 2015.

The event was organised by the Resistant Citizen group, an anti-junta activist group, and the New Democracy Movement (NDM), an anti-coup group where the 14 activists are members.

The “Post-It Notes for Freedom” activity started at 6 pm and ended at around 8 pm. Prior to the event, police officers erected iron fences to barricade half the area of the skywalk, restricting the space that could be used by both activists and passers-by.

At the event, Sirawit Serithiwat, an anti-junta student activist from Resistant Citizen, passed out post-it notes to the gathered supporters and encouraged everyone to write messages on them before posting them on a wall set up along the BTS skywalk linking the MBK shopping mall to Siam Centre.

Throughout the event at least, a hundred police stood in the restricted zone, photographing activists. Plainclothes officers also entered the activists’ zone to photograph the activists closer. The event organizer told supporters to not interfere with the police actions.

Sirawit, amidst the throng of people, told Prachatai that he hoped this activity would encourage the public to take to heart the cause of the jailed 14 activists.

Thiraphimol Serirangsan, the wife of one of the jailed activists, was also helping out at the event. Her husband is Pornchai Yuanyi, also known as Sam, one of the NDM leaders,

“Before Sam went to protest on the day of his arrest, he told me ‘I’m doing it for you, for our child, and for democracy,” said Thiraphimol, who met Pornchai when they were both at Chulalongkorn University’s Political Science Faculty. They have a baby together.

As the event went on, many supporters, members of the public, and passers-by left encouraging post-it notes. Many of them are in foreign languages, perhaps to call for international help in freeing the activists.

At around 7 pm, activists commenced singing songs to rouse the public, including a Thai version of “Do You Hear the People Sing?” Activists also chanted “Free the students! Free our friends!” and made short speeches calling for a return to democracy.

Activists also gave out flyers about their next activity which will be staged on 6 July. The “Wings of Freedom” event will be held at Thammasat’s Tha Prachan Campus.

At 7:16 pm, Sombat Boonngam-anong, aka Nuling or the Polka Dot Editor, arrived on the scene amid a media hoopla, and added a post-it of his own.

Sombat said he was just having a meal at MBK Centre when he heard about the event and decided to participate. “My post-it just has the number 14 within a sun,” he said.

“Hold fast and stand firm in your beliefs,” he said when asked what he would like to say to the jailed activists.

Other participants included Wiboon Bunpattararaksa, the father of Jatupat Bunpattararaksa, one of the jailed activists. Wiboon stated that the students are acting as role models for society, who should realize the gravity of the students being wrongfully jailed.

“At a time like this, we cannot do much, but this activity is better than nothing. The post-it notes reflect what we’re feeling and facing, and when others see them they will realize it too,” said the father.

Wiboon states that the NCPO are afraid of revolution, and the student protest shook the junta at the judicial level.

On his post-it, Wiboon wrote “You did the right thing, son.”

Thanongsak Patpongpaibul, one of the participants, said that he had been involved in the NDM ever since the coup. Under a junta, unlike a democracy, there is no system of checks and balances, he said.

Another contributor, Panisara Panmuni from the Kuakarun College of Nursing, said that she was here because she “does not accept the authoritarian regime” and will “not surrender to this unlawfulness.”

A freelance academic in religious philosophy, Wichak Panich, expressed his support.

“Those 14 students ignited the fundamental spark found in everyone. The common people do not possess power in terms of force or arms, but this [post-it activity] shows the power of the people who are suppressed and want political participation. [Activity participants] have surpassed the fear of the above by participating, and thus reclaim the country.”

Wichak went on to say that there is no shortcut to democracy. Thais must continuously work to solve the corruption problems which exist in democracy rather than destroy the democratic system altogether. People must be made aware that the junta has never done anything for them and will continue to leave them powerless if allowed, said Wichak.

On his post-it, Wichak wrote, “We want political participation.”

Sunai Phasuk, a researcher from Human Rights Watch, also came to observe the event on Friday evening.