FREE SPEECH CAMPAIGN
New political rally called to test CDRM
Students, lecturers say any arrests will show the coup leaders are not sincere
Students and university lecturers opposed to last week's coup will this afternoon defy the coup leaders again by staging an outdoor political discussion on the topic "Why we must resist the coup", on the lawn at Thammasat University at 5pm.
The decision to protest came despite the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM) yesterday passing its 21st martial directive for all local political groups to stop all forms of assembly, adding that those violating the order faced swift penalties.
"We do not accept any of the CDRM's orders because they came to power through the barrel of a gun," said Uchaen Cheangsane, a member of Dome Daeng, a group of alumni and students of the university recently set up to oppose the September 19 putsch.
"If they arrest or harm us, we won't fight back, but it will show that their talk about political reform is not for real," said Uchaen.
About 50 protesters, mostly students from Chulalongkorn, Thammasat, Mahidol, Ramkhamhaeng and Kasetsart universities and King Mongkut's Institute of Technology, are expected to take part in the civil disobedience act.
Chulalongkorn political science lecturer Kanokrat Lertchoosakul, who will be one of the four speakers, told The Nation: "As a political science lecturer my position is to protect the right and liberty of political expression.
"At present, the political views have been polarised into two. And there has been a systematic attempt at truth-making - to make people believe that this is the reality that we must accommodate and that a coup is the way of solving problems.
"My message is that there must be space for those who think differently."
"We want to tell society that not all are supportive of the coup, that there are voices against the coup-makers," said Thanaphol Eiwsakul, editor of alternative political magazine Fah Diew Kan, and another speaker at Thammasat.
Thanaphol said the protesters will not be seeking permission from university administrators because they believed the administrators are now under the power of the coup leaders.
Thammasat has been the site of many anti-dictator protests since 1973.
Some students who took part in the peaceful protest on Friday at Siam Centre said they felt let down by the Thai media.
The students said they felt betrayed because even most of the print media generally supported the coup and left no space for those who thought differently.
Rattasit Rakkiatwong, who joined the protest on Friday said he has had no media outlet to air his opposition.
"The [Thai] media has been one-sided but people who oppose it [the coup] don't have any channel to voice their opposition. What they did [by staging a coup] is barbaric."
One student protester claimed he was slapped round the ear on Friday by an unknown bystander.
Kengkij Kitiranglarp, a doctoral student at Chulalongkorn, said students at the university had formed a group called "Chula Students for Liberty" and would play host to another protest on Wednesday.
A website campaign started by historian Thongchai Winichakul on Friday, which aims to gather signatures from Thais and foreigners urging the coup leaders not to arrest any protesters, has so far attracted 775 signatures.