Issan demonstrators turn protest into celebration of liberty and freedom

Students across Thailand’s North East held protests on campuses across the region on Thursday demanding that the government rewrite the constitution and hold elections.

The students echoed their Bangkok counterparts in demanding accountability from the government and for the end of military involvement in politics.

Thousands of student protesters and allies turned up to the demonstrations which featured speeches, songs, and chants. However, the students across Issan also used the occasion to partake in celebrations of liberty, youth and the future.

“We are here to oppose the government, this is true, but we are also here to show the world that the youth of the Issan region are awake,” said Naruedon Boundian, a student at Khon Kaen University.

“We are having fun and enjoying meeting friends who share our concerns and our views,” he told Thai Enquirer by phone.

More rallies are planned across the country in the coming weeks as the students hope to increase pressure on the Prayut government.

Government committee

Parliament, on Thursday, voted to set up an investigation committee which will explore the demands of the student protesters and ways to build dialogue between the government and the students.

The opposition voted against the motion, however, saying that a committee will be laborious and slow in establishing dialogue and called on the government to talk to the students directly including hearing their demands in the lower house.

So far, the government has not commented on the demands directly with prime minister Prayut Chan-ocha telling reporters that he was aware of the protests without elaborating.

State of Emergency

The National Security Council said on Wednesday that it will not use the State of Emergency act to press charges against protesters after activists and legal groups raised concerns that the SOE could be used to harass and arrest dissidents.

The SOE was extended by one more month this week by the cabinet, who argued that the emergency decree was needed to ensure that the coronavirus pandemic did not return.

“We will not use orders within Section 9 of the emergency decree to ban demonstrations… it will no longer be included in this extension,” said Somsak Roongsita, the NSC’s secretary-general.

“This is being done to show that the SOE… is being used solely to prevent an outbreak.”

 

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