Submitted on Tue, 2017-06-06 17:14
Police officers and soldiers have barred villagers from joining a march in Bangkok protesting amendment to the National Health Security Act.
On 6 June 2017, the People's Health Systems Movement (PHSM) staged a protest at the office of the United Nations in Bangkok demanding the junta cease efforts to amend the National Health Security Act that threaten to abolish Thailand’s universal healthcare, also known as the "Gold Card" medical scheme.
The march at the UN office
A member of PHSM, Rattana Thongngam, told media that in the evening of 4 June, a plainclothes police officer visited her house in Surin province asking her when and how she would travel to Bangkok to join the protest.
Though the officer did not explicitly bar her from joining the protest, Rattana and other villagers decided to leave Surin for Bangkok earlier than planned to avoid further encounters with authorities.
Other villagers in Surin and Buriram chose not to travel to Bangkok due to fears of further intimidation, after being visited by soldiers prohibiting them from joining the protest.
Previously on 2 June, PHSM requested permission from the Dusit Police Station to stage a protest at the Education Ministry. The police, however, denied the request on grounds that the protest site would have been too close to the Government House. The police added the protest could be considered a breach of the Public Assembly Act and NCPO Head Order 3/2015 — the junta’s ban on public gatherings of five people or more.
PHSM subsequently relocated the march to the UN office, though the protest was closely monitored by security officers. No protesters have been arrested so far.
Police officers and soldiers observe the march