Thai university students, lecturer back colleagues detained for anti-coup protest

Thai university students, lecturer back colleagues detained for anti-coup protest
PHOTO: The Nation/ANN

Scores of students and members of the public turned up at Thammasat University yesterday to show support for the 14 students held for staging a protest against the military coup.

The "Post-It for Friends" campaign was kicked off by the League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy around noon with some 70 people gathering at the historic wall of the university facing Tha Prachan Road.

They invited people to write personal messages on a board that was then hung on the wall.

"Our objective is to send them our moral support. Later this evening, we'll take this board down. Tomorrow we'll place it in front of Bangkok Remand Prison and the Central Women Correctional Institution," Supachai Siangjun, a member of the LLTM, said.

This was a symbolic move to allow the public to vent their frustration with the current situation. "Through this, people can easily join the activity to express their views," he said.

Nacha Kong-udom said the group had tried to use a channel of communication set up by the government, but there was nothing to help guarantee that her concerns would be taken into account. That was why she decided to use this measure to articulate her ideas and support friends.

"We will continue our activity to keep the issue in the public eye."

The board was full of encouraging words from prominent academics like Kasian Tejapira, a political scientist at Thammasat. "I'm proud to be your teacher," he wrote.

Ekachai Chainuvati, a legal expert who also joined the event, said there was no one behind the rally of the 14 detained students.

The country could function with democracy, not the use of force, and the democratic system could move on only through mutual respect, he said.

"My goal today is to convince [those sharing different ideas on this issue] to agree with us," he said.

"The country still has hope if we believe this country belongs to us all, regardless of our backgrounds and the political groups we belong to."

Songkram Luvgnurn and Chairawee Seehatraiya, who were both red-shirt activists, also showed up at the event. "This country belongs to everyone, whether red or yellow shirts," Songkram said.

They wanted an election and invited all groups to join in the democratic process, he said.

The activity continued without any military or state authorities present.

The 14 anti-coup students were arrested late on Friday afternoon after the Military Court issued a warrant for them for allegedly violating a junta announcement and Article 116 of the Criminal Code forbidding the inciting of public unrest. The development came as Prime Minster Prayut Chan-o-cha said he had evidence that the anti-coup student activists were backed by political groups.

A team of 30 police and military officers had raided Suan Ngern Mee Ma, an alternative training centre owned by social critic Sulak Sivarak, and took the students into custody on Friday.

In a related development, some social groups also launched campaigns via social media to support the detained students and demand their release without condition. They want others to sign up and back their friends.

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