Some vocational school groups pull out of anti-government rallies because of lese majeste content

The majority of vocational student groups will continue to volunteer as guards for pro-democracy rallies, their representative said on Friday, but two groups will pull out over les majeste and the use of profanity against the monarch.

Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep, the leader of We Volunteer, the main group of volunteer guards for the student-led pro-democracy group of Ratsadon, told Thai Enquirer that only one out of five major vocational student groups have declared that they will not join future rallies.

“No other group has expressed similar sentiments and they will continue with the movement,” he added.

His comments came after the Gear of Red Thonburi, one of the major vocational student groups, and a smaller group from Vocational Student Friend of Democracy, had on Thursday asked their members not to show their emblem if they wish to join the pro-democracy rally at the Crown Property Bureau on November 25.

They said on social media posts that they disagree with some of the profanity messages against the monarchy that were sprayed onto the street in front of the Royal Thai Police Headquarters on November 18. 

The two groups, which volunteered as guards for the pro-democracy protestors in previous rallies, insisted that they agree with the demand to reform the monarchy institution but they believe that it can be done without the use of such language.

They believe that the use of profanity to insult the monarchy will lead to more violence from royalist groups and they are concerned that more vocational student will be shot or even kill because of it.

At least 55 people have been injured and six suffered from gunshot wounds following the clash between pro-monarchy demonstrators and pro-democracy protestors at the rally in front of the parliament on November 17.

Most of the people who were injured were vocational school students on the front line.

The two groups who have pulled out urged the Ratsadon to tone down the use of profanity against the monarchy before they officially rejoin any future rally. 

“They have the right to express their feelings and to disagree with what has happened because this struggle is not forced onto anyone and everyone can contribute as much as they are willing and able to do so,” Piyarat said.

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