On 23 May, the People Go Network organized the 3rd ‘Light Up Freedom’ event in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) on the occasion of the 7th anniversary of the 22 May 2014 military coup.
Participants standing by the street holding paper stars and umbrellas with signs saying "free our friends" and "stop harassing people."
People Go Network representative Supaporn Malailoi said that while 22 May was the anniversary of the coup itself, 23 May was the anniversary of the beginning of the anti-coup movement, which started with a student protest in front of the BACC.
“We came back here to remember the first day of opposition to the coup to say that we still have a dream and are still ready to fight for our dreams,” Supaporn said.
Supaporn said that the group is calling for the repeal of Section 112, the lèse majesté law, and for changes to the current judicial process, which has many issues. She said that the degree to which people are questioning the judicial process is unprecedented, and that it is necessary to speak out for change.
“If we see that this is not justice, but we don’t stand up and fight, it will continue to stay with us. We must thank the people who have stood up, and we must not let those who speak out get unfairly imprisoned,” said Supaporn.
During the event, several participants hung a banner saying “Bioscience has the monopoly. The entire country is hanged” from the railing of the Pathumwan Skywalk.
The banner saying “Bioscience has the monopoly. The entire country is hanged” hanging from the Pathumwan Skywalk
Around an hour into the event, police officers from Pathumwan Police Station arrived and tried to take down the banner, but the participants refused, saying that they were already going to take it down after the event ended. The banner was later moved to another side of the skywalk.
Singers Anchalee Ismanyee (left) and Kuljira Thongkong (centre) performing during the event.
The event featured musical performances and speeches from several activists and civil society organization representatives, including Amnesty International Thailand Director Piyanut Kotsan and Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome.
Crescent Moon Theatre's performance during the event
Rangsiman participated in the League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy (LLTD)’s march from Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus to the Democracy Monument to protest against the 2014 coup. He said that only 50 people participated in the march, and they were stopped at the Khok Wua Intersection.
He also participated in the LLTD’s protest on 23 May 2015, on the 1st anniversary of the coup, in front of the BACC. During the protest, many protesters, including Rangsiman, were arrested.
The Commoner Band performing during the event
Rangsiman urged people not to get discouraged or lose hope. He said that even though past movements have never been successful, they were not in vain, as the people learn from their experience and from the past.
He said that the fight for democracy has come further than he thought starting from a march joined by 50 people to last year’s protests joined by thousands. The world has already changed, Rangsiman said, and there is only a short way to go before the system is taken down.
“We’re not seeing any starlight, or any light at the end of the tunnel which will lead to change, but I want the people to feel that, in the middle of this discouragement, there are still friends among the people who think like us. They are the people who are coming with hope. … Don’t get discouraged. Don’t lose hope yet. Change will happen soon. Change will come in the end, and the courtyard in front of the BACC that was used to fight against the coup will become a place of victory. Finally, I want the people to remember that the nation is the people, and nothing can replace that,” Rangsiman said.
Participants holding up paper stars while a banner saying "free our friends" is displayed in the background
Before the end of the event, participants held up their phone flashlights behind paper stars as a symbol of hope while the Commoner Band played in the background. Banners were also displayed stating the demands of the 2020 pro-democracy protests, which are the release of detained activists, the resignation of Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, and reform of the monarchy.