A protest at the Royal Thai Army (RTA) Headquarters at Phan Fa Bridge criticized military procurement and a personal comment by Col Nusra Vorapatratorn, a former RTA spokesperson, who called the large protest at the Democracy Monument on 18 July a ‘cute little mob’.
Piyarat Chongthep, an activist while giving a speech in front of the RTA HQs.
Anon Nampa, a human rights lawyer, said that the gathering on 20 July would not have taken place without Nusra’s Facebook post calling the 18 July protest “mung-ming” (cute, sweet). The RTA did not disagree with her post, reflecting how the RTA belittles protests by framing them as being manipulated.
Nusra’s post, now deleted, dismisses the protesters’ 3 demands as senseless and a sign that they are being manipulated by someone. She also urged the protesters to find jobs to earn income such as local guides, food delivery riders, online store workers or farmers. The post said:
- ‘Must dissolve parliament’. Little brothers and sisters, in 2 and a half more years we have to have a new election. Covid-19 will have a vaccine yet, we don’t know.
- ‘There must be constitutional change’. This is very confused. Even the reason for the Emergency Decree, which was issued to control the spread of the disease, you young ones still don’t get it at all. At the time of public hearings and the constitutional referendum, what were you little ones doing? You have to make it a bit clear what sections have to change. Make it clear. Do it. Is it about the signs about the institution [monarchy]?
- ‘Must stop threatening people’. Hmm. Little brothers and sisters, if people don’t break the law, nobody can do anything. These days, some people lie, make up fake news, and curse the King and everyone below him. We still use measures from light to heavy. It also begins to make officials fed up, finding abusive posts every day. But I will say most are avatars. Or the people who are arrested mostly end up not knowing what’s going on, with a psychiatric history.
Anon said that the idea that you are safe if you abide by the law is illogical. The escalation of measures referred to by Nusra is not used even if people break the law. Also, people who were physically assaulted after they tried to check military scandals did not even receive justice.
The human rights lawyer also criticized the army procurement of a Gulfstream G500 airplane.
The RTA stated that the airplane is a replacement for an old Beechcraft 1900yf which has been in service for about 30 years. The procurement was in the 2020 budget but the Covid-19 pandemic delayed procurement to 2021.
The airplane costs 1,348.5 million baht. It will be used to transport commanders and VIPs.
Pharit Chiwarak, an activist from the Student Union of Thailand (SUT), tore up a poster of Gen Apirat Kongsompong, the RTA Commander. 2 years to the next election is too slow. 1 day under an incompetent leader is too much already. The students these days failed in the 2016 referendum as they were either below voting age or were arrested for campaigning for a ‘no’ vote.
“Although today we may not be many, we come here to protect the dignity of the people. Today, people are telling the warriors to respect the honour of the people. And we cannot let pass by the dishonourable incident of the former spokesperson.” said Pharit.
The sign “Why does the military exist?” was raised. The protesters also chanted “Dictatorship shall fall, long live democracy” and dispersed at around 19:30. They also picked up trash to keep the protest venue clean.
Officers from Nang Lerng Police Station were deployed in the area. They warned people that the gathering may risk violating of the Emergency Decree and related laws.