Opinion: The protesters are taking steps to avoid violence and provoking the state but will they listen?

Third hands and agent provocateurs exist in every conflict.

They are one of the most difficult things to deal with for any peaceful demonstration and peacemaking process.

However, what happened at Wongwian Yai and Bangna on Saturday and Sunday was not done by unknown characters, they were angry vocational school students and angry mobs. Both incidents happened after the pro-democracy protests there have already been called off by the student organizers.

At Wongwian Yai, a group of protestors attacked a government water truck that was passing through the roundabout.

The group later identified themselves as vocational school students from the Gear of Red Thonburi group and apologized for what happened the following day.

They were sorry because they understood that the incident could be used to undermine the largely peaceful protests by high school and university students.

The Gear of Red Thonburi group said they were angry that some vocational school students have been detained by the state and they mistook the water tank truck for a water cannon truck that was used to dispersed the protestors at Pathumwan Intersection on Friday.

Their actions were uncalled for and they should be sorry for what they have done and they should be punished by the law.

But, the incident should not be used by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and his regime as an excuse to use any more force on the pro-democracy protestors. 

The Bangna incident was slightly more complicated as no group has come out to say that they were the ones that destroyed a small police kiosk at an intersection.

Nevertheless, a video clip later emerged which shown one of the speakers at a protest site on Monday saying that the Bangna incident was also started by vocational school students.

This time, the vocational school students and the leftover mobs were angry that the local authority decided to turn off the street lights while protestors were going home.

They threw bottles and rocks at the police booth to vent their anger, according to local news.

One of the explanations given by a vocational school student who was there and I later spoke to was that they feared that a third party will use the cover of the darkness to attack the protestors in order to create a situation.

Besides people throwing rocks and a small scuffle, the video clip from the Bang Na incident shows many protestors trying to stop others from throwing things at the police booth.

The small scuffle was actually between the angry mob and one of the protesters who was trying to stop the violent scene.

Again, the incident should not be used by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha and his regime as an excuse to use any more force on the pro-democracy protestors.

If the police have evidence then these individuals that destroyed government property should be punished according to the law.

It should not be used as an excuse for the state to roll out fully-geared riot police and water cannon against peaceful protestors again.

The student protest organizers are also trying their best to avoid such an incident from happening again.

The efforts can be seen on Monday when the protest site at Kaset Intersection was called off an hour before the usual time of around 8:30 because they wanted to avoid further violence.

I asked one of the protest organizers, Nong Rainbow, for a reason as to why they called off the protest early. She told us that they wanted to maintain peace and avoid any incident that could be used to discredit the peaceful movement for democracy.  

When asked if alcohol and drunken mob goers were part of the reason, she said yes, that was part of the reasons as well.

At the protest site at Kaset Intersection, it was the first time I saw that volunteer guards starting to search for people who were drinking alcohol and asked them not to do so.

Speakers also told the crowd that they should not be consuming alcohol during the demonstration as it could lead to lack of judgment from drunk protestors and the angry mob mentality.

However, it is likely that the prime minister will not see these actions.

Instead, he will use any small incident as an excuse to continue his persecution of dissent. He specifically pointed to the Bangna incident as one of the examples of why the government’s use of force on protestors is warranted.

What a joke.

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