Protesters call on the junta to leave
Several hundred 'Coup Busters' march along Rajdamnoen Avenue in first mass public demonstration since Sept 19
Chanting "Junta get out!", nearly 300 protesters last night marched along Rajdamnoen Avenue from Thammasat University to Democracy Monument in scenes reminiscent of the famous anti-military dictatorship protests that occurred 33 years ago.
It was the first march against the military coup that toppled the Thaksin Shinawatra government on September 19.
Led by a score of students activists calling themselves the "Coup Busters" network, marchers ranged in age from toddlers to some around 70 years of age.
One elderly man who wanted to be identified as "Lung Bua" said he had seen all the protest marches from the October 14, 1973 uprising and the October 6, 1976 massacre of students, to the May 1992 crackdown on a pro-democracy rally.
"I'm here because I don't like the way the military again put tanks onto the streets at will. I'm also upset with the people today who forget so easily the history of what the military has done to us," he said.
The march attracted the attention of motorists and tourists
along the avenue. One motorist rolled down his window to cheer on the protesters shouting "I'm with you guys! They [the military] tore up the constitution. How can they accuse anyone of breaking the law? You guys should protest at the first meeting of the National Legislative Assembly next week too!"
Under the Council for National Security's state of martial law, political gatherings of more than five people are prohibited.
Student leader Chanakarn Padoemwong said her group had organised the march and a rally at Thammasat earlier yesterday to honour the spirits of those who fought against the military dictatorship of Field Marshal Thanom Kittakachorn 33 years ago and to remind people that the military had not changed.
"They are always hungry for power," she said.
The protesters held a candle-lit vigil when they arrived at Democracy Monument. They also erected banners reading "Military dictator get out", "A government from a coup d'etat is a dictator government", and "Restore the 1997 Constitution", among others.
A dozen policemen were dispatched to the rally, with officer Surakarn Naksin saying he had received orders just to watch the event in case of troublemakers.