Protests have been staged in Bangkok and other provinces to mark the 6th anniversary of the 2014 coup d’état. Students were fined for breaking traffic laws as they drove around displaying banners. A red shirt activist and former MP were arrested and charged with violating the Emergency Decree for organizing a contagion-risk activity.
A group of student activists protested in commemoration of the 2014 coup.
On 22 May, many groups gathered to mark the 6th anniversary of the 2014 coup d’état which ousted an elected civilian government.
In the morning a group affiliated to the student activist groups the Democracy Restoration Group (DRG) and the Popular Student Network for Democracy (PSND), went to Parliament, the Army Headquarters, the Cabinet Office and the Democracy Monument. They raised banners and demanded cuts in the army’s budget to re-allocate to Covid-19 relief.
The group placed a wreath with the number '2191' in front of the Democracy Monument, representing the number of days under dictatorship.
Police officers, some in plainclothes, were present at every site. They took photos and questioned students about the event and their personal information.
The group later published a statement condemning the junta, many members of which still hold important positions in the government, of corruption, cronyism and a thirst to prolong their political power. This is democratically unacceptable and the military should stay out of politics.
The statement calls for 1) unnecessary items in the military’s budget to be cut and re-allocated to Covid-19 relief; 2) abolition of the Senate that was hand-picked by the junta as it is one of the junta’s mechanisms for holding on to political power; and 3) amendments to the 2017 constitution or a civilian-elected constitutional drafting committee.
A Student Union of Thailand drove a car with a banner of Gen Prayuth in Bangkok.
On the same day, the Student Union of Thailand held a separate event to mark the coup. They drove a car around crowded places like Hua Lamphong, Victory Monument and Ratchaprasong, with a banner saying ‘It’s 6 years already, you beasts’ with a portrait of Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader.
They ended at the Democracy Monument where they attached a banner with the message ‘2020 dictators rule the country’ to the monument gate. Not long after, the police came to remove the banner. The police explained to the students about the Emergency Decree, the Cleanliness Act and the Land Traffic Act.
At 5.30 pm, the activists were fined for driving without a license, obstructing traffic and exhaust pipe modification.
Dr.Tossaporn lid candles which arranged into the word 'Coup'.
In the afternoon in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), another gathering marked the 2014 coup. The authorities had put up fences to prevent people using the forecourt, but people still gathered in the remaining space.
At 5.45 pm, the police arrested Anurak Jeantawanich, a red shirt political activist and Dr. Tossaporn Serirak, a former MP, who were demonstrating there. They were taken to Pathum Wan Police Station and charged with violating the Emergency decree by organizing a public gathering that risked spreading infection. Both of them denied the charges.
The arrest record stated that Anurak posted an invitation to the gathering on his Facebook page while Tossaporn exhibited portraits, gave a speech and asked for donations for people who suffered from Covid-19.
Tossaporn was granted bail of 30,000 baht. Anurak spent the night in the police station jail until he was bailed in the next morning. (Source:Matichon)
In Nakhon Si Thammarat, a student group, MWL Free, from Walailak University, attached a banner ‘6 years, damn Playut (a pun on Gen Prayut’s name)’ in front of the administration building. They dispersed when security officers came for them.
What happened in and after the 2014 Coup?
The NCPO, led by Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, ousted the Pheu Thai-led government in 2014 amidst mass anti-government demonstrations by the yellow-shirt People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).
Leading PDRC figures who continue to benefit from the military government include Suthep Thaugsuban, the leader of the PDRC, who set up his own political party whose leader, M.R. Chatu Mongol Sonakul, is now the Minister of Labour, and former PDRC leaders Puttipong Punnakanta, who is now Minister of Digital Economy and Society and formerly government spokesperson, and Nataphol Teepsuwan, now the Minister of Education.
The junta dissolved the cabinet and parliament, and wrote itself an interim constitution which allowed the junta leader to become Prime Minister and to issue any order deemed necessary, whether executive, judicial or legislative.
It also gave the military total immunity for staging the coup and for any action taken under its constitution. It was at that time that the term ‘attitude adjustment’ was invented to describe the military’s practice of arresting and detaining people for up to 7 days without charge. More than one thousand people were subjected to the attitude adjustment.