Despite a recent ruling from the Administrative Court ordering the authorities to facilitate the civil rights march, local authorities in Nakhon Ratchasima have pressured the civil rights march to leave the area two days earlier than planned.
On 1 February 2018, about 10 local government officials visited participants in We Walk, A Walk for Friendship at a temple in Nakhon Ratchasima and asked them to leave the temple earlier than planned.
According to Eakachai Issaratha, one of the marchers, the participants planned to stay for three nights at Wat Non Makok temple in Non Sung District before continuing their journey to Khon Kaen and the abbot of the temple had agreed to shelter them. However, about 10 local government officials visited the temple and told the march organisers that they could stay for only one night.
The officials claimed that there was a resolution from a meeting of soldiers, police officers, district officials, village heads and subdistrict heads, to allow them to stay for only one night. The marchers could not stay in the area for 3 nights, because the district and provincial officials felt uncomfortable. The decision to let them stay in the area was not for the abbot alone to make, but rested also with the local administration.
“I asked them what worried them. Then I explained to them why we are here and that the Administrative Court already issued a temporary measure to protect our activities. Plus, we do everything openly, and we have no secret motive. They said that the district authorities are uncomfortable,” Eakachai told Prachatai.
The marchers subsequently decided to leave the temple as they did not want the abbot to be intimidated by the authorities. Eakachai demanded that the superior officials who are uncomfortable should have come to talk to the marchers directly, and not just send their subordinates to take all the blame like this.
The We Walk march kicked off at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus on 20 January with four main issues: the right to universal health care, the rights of farmers, community and environmental rights, and the Constitution.
Previously, the administrative court ruled to guarantee
the right to freedom of assembly of the We Walk march and ordered the authorities not to obstruct the activity. However, eight organisers of the march are still facing prosecution for violating the junta’s ban on public assembly.