Dozens of Triam Udom students and over 400 Kasetsart University students gathered at their schools to show their stance against the government. The protesters announced three demands corresponding with those of the Free Youth Movement, and criticized the media and police who are not standing with them in their fight against dictatorship at a time of moral crisis.
Students at Triam Udom Suksa School holding a demonstration in the middle of a heavy rain. (Photo by Wisarut Bunya)
On the afternoon of July 24, Triam Udom students held a flash mob #Fridaywestandupagainstdictatorship (วันศุกร์ลุกมาต้านเผด็จการ) and #Triamudomdon’tsubmittodictators (เกียมอุดมไม่ก้มหัวให้เผด็จการ) with undercover and uniformed police officers in attandance.
The students announced three demands which corresponded with those of the Free Youth Movement protest, the biggest since the outbreak: dissolve parliament, stop harassing citizens and rewrite the constitution.
Despite pouring rain, the students held placards, turned on the flashlights on their mobile phones, and observed a minute’s silence for democracy. They also sang the Japanese animation Hamtaro’s theme song with modified lyrics parodying Thai politics, one line of which was “the most delicious dish is taxpayers’ money.”
Although the school gates were closed to prevent anyone entering the school, the hour and a half demonstration was carried out peacefully. Some police officers attempted to take pictures of students’ faces before they were loudly criticized by the students.
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Another protest took place at Kasetsart University later in the evening The crowd began gathering in heavy rain in front of the university’s main auditorium where the demonstration was scheduled to take place, while the organisers announced on their Facebook page that the event had been pushed back from 16:30 to 17:00.
University personnel had blocked off the road in front of the main auditorium and set up temperature screening points near the protest area.
Police officers from the Bangkhen Police Station warning protestors about violating the Emergency Decree
Before the protest could begin, some police officers warned the protesters to not do anything illegal against the Emergency Decree on the Covid-19 situation. However, participants insisted that according to the constitution they had every right to carry out the protest.
Even though the government has yet again extended the Decree, it claimed that the Decree is not political and has nothing to do with protests, and has removed a ban on public gatherings.
Protestors gathering in front of the main auditorium at Kasetsart University in the rain.
One of the placards held by a protestor at Kasetsart University.
Many students held placards such as “Oust Prayut,” yellow posters of disappeared Thai activists, and "(If you) get rid of the government, please also help get rid of SOTUS". This reflects dissatisfaction toward the strict and oppressive seniority system inside many institutions ranging from schools to the government.
Pongsakorn Punjakunaporn, one of the protesters, had a sign saying “The monarchy is the puppet maste.” He said he does not wish to change only one person because if only Prayut is removed and replaced by someone else, nothing will change as the existing system will still remain. Who is behind the system is well recognized but it cannot be said in public.
He believed that royal families can function in a democratic state as long as they do not violate people’s rights and freedoms or use people’s taxes for their own comfort. He disagreed with the idea that people born in certain families should enjoy more privileges than others.
“It doesn’t matter if Thailand is a republic or constitutional democracy, we must change the status and power of the king. They cannot intervene in politics.”
During the event, various speakers took the microphone.
The first speaker was a representative of the southern provinces of Thailand where a State of Emergency has been declared for more than 16 years. He criticized the government for not listening to people's voices and extending the State of Emergency and special laws imposed in the three southernmost provinces. He claimed that Thai laws exist to harass people and to maintain the power of the authorities and no media agency was reporting what happened.
“If Gen Prayuth Chan-o-cha does not step down, people will drag him out,” the speaker chanted.
He also mentioned the Triam Udom protest earlier that afternoon and praised the students
A protestor at Kasetsart University holding a placard saying "democracy belongs to the people."
Students holding placards and flashing the three-finger 'Hinger Games' salute. The first sign on the right says "we are here to take back our future."
Sriprai Nonsee, a leading member of the Rangsit and Area Labour Union Group, criticized the government's poor measures in handling the impact of Covid-19 on workers. The 425 baht/day wage for workers proposed by the Palang Pracharat Party during the election has also not happened.
She said the workers are affected economically due to the economic decline. Students are at risk of losing their opportunity to study if their parents lose their jobs.
Anon Nampa, a human rights lawyer said many recent protests have proved 3 points.
- They debunk the discourse that says taking the streets means chaos, because people are demonstrating peacefully without weapons.
- They prove that the protests have public opinion on their side as many celebrities have expressed support.
- They discredit conservative opinions that try to label us as anti-monarchy by proving that these are democratic demonstrations.
He also gave some advice to students that if our movement wins, the political refugees who fled due to their opinions against the monarchy, like Somsak Jeamteerasakul, Pavin Chatchavalpongpun and Suda Rangkupan, will return in honour.
Protestors holding 'missing person' posters for missing activist-in-exile Wanchalearm Satsaksit, who was abducted from in front of his condominium in Phnom Penh two months ago.
The other 2 speakers from KU asked the media and people to stand by the students’ side. As photos of protesters’ faces and ID cards have been routinely taken during the demonstration, they criticized the police for betraying the ones who they should truly serve and who pay them from their taxes.
Two placards seen at the Kasetsart University demonstration. The one of the right said "I want this country to be a country in which people can have a dream." The one on the left also contain the #saveWanchalearm hashtag, which was used to demand justice for Wanchalearm Satsaksit.
The demonstration concluded at around 20:30. A KU student representative underlined their 5 demands: support democracy, rights and freedoms; create social welfare for all in all aspects; draft a new constitution with the participation of people; disband the current senate as it is appointed by the junta or just abolish the senate system for good; and decentralize power to local government and let them have decision-making power without the unnecessary control of the central authority.
The organizer said that they will meet again until democracy is in place.