Stop silent coup: protest against prolonged Emergency Decree

The Student Union of Thailand (SUT) has organized an act of civil disobedience in front of Pathumwan Police Station to oppose the fourth month of the state of emergency. The Union also called for an end to state harassment of dissidents.

Protesters led by Parit and Panusaya (in the front) raised three fingers - an anti-authoritarian gesture in front of the Pathum Wan police station.

On 8 June, the Student Union of Thailand led by former President Parit Chiwarak and spokesperson Panusaya Sithijirawattanakulwent organized a public gathering of about 20 people at Pathumwan Police Station against the prolonged implementation of the Emergency Decree.

The police set up a temperature screening station and separate spaces for the media and participants. Dozens of plainclothes and uniformed officers were at the scene.

Parit and Panusaya insist that they will not hear charges for disobeying the Decree, arguing that it is illegitimate.

The messages on the boards calling for a stop to the emergency decree.

Protesters carried signs and spoke against the government decision to use the Emergency Decree to suppress dissent. Some signs read “Stop using the Emergency Decree to shut people up” and “Stop Medical Coup”

Parit and Panusaya read a statement saying that Union members had received 2 summonses over charges that they violated the Emergency Decree by holding 2 public gatherings in June, despite social distancing measures being observed.

Many incidents have shown that the Emergency Decree, initially implemented to control Covid-19, is being used to suppress people who criticize the government. The Decree also centralizes power with Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, and can be characterized as a 'silent coup' using a medical pretext.

The Emergency Decree allows the government to make urgent procurements and reimbursements without accountability. The people are suffering economically while relief policies are poorly implemented.

As Thailand has registered no domestic infection in more than a month, the government has lost all legitimacy in prolonging the Emergency Decree. If the government fails to uphold the interests of the people, they will rise to overthrow them.

The protesters separately left the venue after their symbolic action in front of the Police Station. No arrests were made.

In Thai law, individuals must report to hear charges from the police after receiving a summons. The police will re-issue the summons if the recipients fail to show up. If again they fail to show up, an arrest warrant is issued.  

The leading SUT figures also said that the student movement had been seriously threatened and harassed by the security authorities, especially in June, a month which marks many important anniversaries in Thai political history. They urged the authorities to cease these operations immediately.

“Most recently, our friends yesterday [7 July] who went to shine a light at the Democracy Monument were followed by the police. House visits continue, especially in the past month [June]. We all experienced this.

“I would like to pass a message to the security authorities: please stop, stop now. Threatening us like this will not scare or stop us. It will further kindle our resistance to you because we will see ever more clearly how much your depraved behaviour oppresses people,” said Parit.

The Emergency Decree prohibits people from holding any public gathering that increases the risk of Covid-19 contagion. On 30 June, the cabinet agreed to extend enforcement of the Decree for 1 more month since its first enforcement in March.

iLaw, a legal watchdog NGO, reported that since the Decree was implemented on 26 March, 23 people have been prosecuted in 6 cases of violating the Decree.

The Decree centralizes national command and control to an ad hoc committee led by the Prime Minister. Many MPs from opposition parties and critics have decried the lengthy enforcement because it has been politically abused to control opposition parties and public protests.

On 30 June, Parit and Panusaya tore up their summons in front of Pathumwan Police Station. They were accused of violating the Emergency Decree by organizing a public gathering on 5 June. The event was a tribute to Wanchalearm Satsaksit, the Thai activist in exile who was kidnapped in Phnom Penh on 4 June.

Source: 
https://prachatai.com/journal/2020/07/88497