The view from the students: We will not stop fighting

Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, or Roong, as she is known among her friends, received a summons from the Royal Thai Police for her involvement in the demonstration calling attention to the disappearance of Wanchalerm Satsaksid on June 5th.

The warrant stipulated that Roong and her friends from the Student Union of Thailand violated the regulations of State of Emergency (SOE) Order declared by the Government last March to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.

The police issued the warrant as Panusaya and her fellow activists were organizing a demonstration on June 24th to commemorate the 88th anniversary of the Siamese Revolution of 1932.

An obvious excuse

The government of Thailand has been using SOE as a political tool to make arrests and intimidate students trying to organize any kind of demonstration under the guise of combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is a blatant attempt from the government to quell any political movement by students from across the nation.

Last February, the students came out en-masse to protest the dissolution of the Future Forward Party. Since then, student leaders have been intimidated by police and monitored by the state. (Read more here)

The latest action, taken against Panusaya and her friend, shows that the state will stop at nothing until they completely silence the student activists.

We will not stop

In a liberal and vibrant democracy, there are laws that protect our rights and liberties.

These laws stipulate that despite the difference of opinions, the rights of those who voiced their differing opinions, or their beliefs should be protected and respected, regardless of whether one agrees with such opinions or not.

Panusaya was fighting for the rights of others, the right to freely express ideas and thoughts without the threat of persecution or endangerment.

We, as students and citizens, cannot stand idly by and let them fight injustice alone, less we are found to be supporting the oppressive and totalitarian regime that Thailand pretends to not have.

Consistently, this government finds itself heavy-handed and oppressive, all the while pretending to be a free and fair society.

Actions taken against good people like Roong and myself isolates that lie and exposes the government for who and what they are. That lie may fool foreign governments and the sycophants that fawn over our leaders but it does not fool the student and the population that care.

They say that Thailand is the land of the free, at least that is what the history books teaches us, that we have never suffered from the domination or colonization by a foreign powers.

But it is only a half-truth. The truth is that we have suffered from oppression and domination only the oppressors are our own people. The time has come for us to stop being afraid to fight for what is right.

The time has come for us to keep going and rest assured that we will. My fellow students and I have vowed and agreed to keep this fight going because there is no other alternative. We will not stop.

Bunkueanun Paothong is a student protest leader from Mahidol University.

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