The content in this page ("Netiwit: Why do I refuse to attend the Fourth of July reception?" by Netiwit Chotipatpaisal) is not produced by Prachatai staff. Prachatai merely provides a platform, and the opinions stated here do not necessarily reflect those of Prachatai.

Netiwit: Why do I refuse to attend the Fourth of July reception?

I've received the official invitation letter from the United States Embassy of Thailand 2 weeks ago. It was sent to the faculty of Chulalongkorn university. I learned from the letter that I'm invited to attend the 241 years of Independence Day celebration which will be held on 29th of June, at InterContinental hotel, Bangkok: As an ordinary student, of course, I’m genuinely delighted for such an opportunity.
However, being invited to this event also made me question something. Why am I invited to this event? I'm not different from any other student. I've just always been true to myself. For this reason, I've been promoting democracy under this decayed education system in both the campus and the country, just like one citizen is supposed to do. I suppose that I’m invited to the event because the United States believes in the importance of democracy in Thailand and also considers young generation and people who value and fight for democracy important. It conforms to how the founding fathers of the United States established this country base on checks and balances system, freedom of thought and freedom of expression which can be found only in democratic country. As I've been involved in social activism, I’m indeed delighted to be invited. There have been so many Americans who fight for civil rights and freedom such as Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Eugene V. Debs, Eleanor D. Roosvelt , Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Therefore being invited to the Independence Day reception of the country where there are so many thinkers, fighters and leaders who value rights and freedom surely brings pleasure to me, a student who believes in democracy.
Nonetheless, I've been reconsidering the United States’ role and I realized that it’s contradictory to the American stance on democracy. The U.S. Embassy invited me as a student who fights for democracy, something the founding fathers of the United States value. On the contrary, the president of the United States, President Donald J Trump chose to invite Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, a military coup leader, to the White House? Is this not contradictory? If the United States truly cares about humans rights and democracy, why would they support a dictator who is responsible for human rights violations, detain people who disagree with his regime, bans freedom of expression in public and academic area. It’s clear that the military junta has been ruining democracy in many possible ways. Why has the United States, under the current administration, remained silent? Why aren’t they criticizing the junta for abusing people in the nation? The people of the United States know very well how important rights and liberties are to them, as there is a slogan “Give me liberty or death”. These words are also mentioned in the United States declaration of independence. We, Thai people deserve those rights and freedom as well.
When I was elected the president of the Student Council of Chulalongkorn University, I declared my vision clearly “ As a president, I will be a student leader who is different from those in the past. I will prove that politicians, those involved in politics can truly give people hope, I will openly value and support democracy and free society. I will have the moral courage even in a time where people just follow and obey others and believe that it’s the only right thing you can do. I believe that it’s important to express myself about this matter. It’s important in order to develop a democratic society.
How can I be happy, celebrating the Independence Day when my fellow friends, students and all Thai people are not getting justice? How can I celebrate when they are not even allowed to express themselves? Recently, A student got arrested because he wanted to submit a petition at Government House demanding the government disclose details of the Thai-Chinese train project. This is one of the cases that shows the junta’s ambiguity and oppression
Lastly, I would like to show my appreciation and say thank you to the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, H.E. Mr. Glyn T. Davies for inviting me to the event, also for the response on our statement of Paris agreement which you promised to send our statement to the white house and for your amiability towards Thailand. You and also many officers of embassy have clearly expressed your standpoint, supporting democracy, rights and freedom so many times. I truly hope that you will kindly deliver my words to the white house so the president can reconsider inviting Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha to the white house again. I have no bad intentions towards the United States. I only wanted to express my standpoint. Under democratic regime, every voice matters. I hope you will listen to mine. The aforementioned reasons are why I have to politely turn down your invitation. I hope that the United States will consider our situation and how our rights and freedom are being decayed, take your stance to support democracy and be a Thailand’s good company in order to bring the society to the point where everyone is entitled to rights, freedom and their individual joy of life.
Your sincerely,
Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal 


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