Activists to hold anti-coup gathering
A group of some 80 students and activists under the banner "19 September Network against Coup d'Etat" is calling on members of the public who oppose Tuesday night's coup to express their disapproval by wearing black and gathering peacefully at Siam Paragon this evening.
"Political differences are normal and will always be with us but the task of getting rid of Thaksin [Shinawatra] should be the responsibility of the people without relying on people with weapons," said Sombat Boonngam-anong, an activist and a leading member of the group.
Sombat said his group would peacefully defy the order issued on Wednesday by the coup-leaders barring more than five people assembling for political reasons, as he claims no one has the authority to take away this fundamental right.
"They can't permit us or forbid us. This right is innate," said Sombat. "I do not think rights and liberties are the result of someone handing it to you. The basic rights are always with everyone."
The group yesterday issued its first statement, condemning the actions of the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy for staging a coup to remove an elected government under the Constitution, which was drafted by the people.
"Abolishing the Constitution, harassing the media and putting an end to independent agencies are regarded as acts abolishing the parliamentary democracy. This act will lead to the same outcome of previous coups," the statement read.
Chotisak On-soong, leader of the Student Activity Information Resource, said his group would join the network's campaign at Siam Paragon today.
"We will also provide black armbands for people who want to join the campaign," he said.
Chotisak yesterday filed a petition at the office of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), urging it to protect their right to gather at Siam Paragon.
Meanwhile Thanaphol Eiwsakul, editor of Fah Diew Kan magazine, yesterday submitted a letter demanding the NHRC take a clear stance on the coup.
"In the interview given by Saneh Chamarik, chairman of the NHRC, he stated, 'I do not think [the coup] is about progression or regression [of democracy] but about problem solving'," Thanaphol wrote. He added the statement had given legitimacy to the coup and demanded other NHRC commissioners take a position on the matter. Suwit Lertkraimethi, who is studying for a master's degree in Thammasat University's Political Science Department and is a member of the 19 September Network against Coup d'Etat, demanded Saneh resign.
"His role is to protect human rights, but his statement showed his approval of human-rights violations," Suwit said.
The network invites people to exercise their freedom of expression on its website www.19sep.org. So far it is the only visible group of coup opponents to emerge. As of yesterday more than 1,000 people had read the statement on its website.