Students vow to ramp up protests in coming weeks

Students vow to ramp up protests in coming weeks

Students light their mobile phones during a protest agaisnt the government at Kasetsart University on Saturday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Students light their mobile phones during a protest agaisnt the government at Kasetsart University on Saturday. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Students joining the latest flash mob at Kasetsart University have vowed to escalate their protests until the government is brought down.

"We won't stop here, though I can't say yet whether our next move will be a mass rally or a street march," said pro-democracy activist Parit "Penguin" Chiwarak, who co-organised the three-hour protest on Saturday evening in front of the university's auditorium, which was joined by nearly 700 demonstrators.

University and secondary students have been rallying on or near their campuses every day since Monday to demand change.

Their demands include a rewrite of the constitution and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Core leaders of the now-dissolved Future Forward Party did not show up for the Kasetsart gathering at as earlier reported, though the party's logo was visible on equipment used by the flash mob's organisers.

Mr Parit, a Thammasat University student, is himself a former Future Forward member who joined ex-leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit in a controversial flash mob late last year at the Pathumwan Skywalk in central Bangkok in response to the Election Commission's decision to ask the Constitutional Court to disband the party.

Students have held many rallies after the court dissolved the party on Feb 21 for accepting what it ruled to be an illegal loan from their leader. However, a rally leader who identified herself as Jinny, said: "We're not gathering today to save any one party, only our future."

The organisers said they have launched a webpage MobGunMai ("Let's Mob together") to update people on their movements and compile video clips of similar flash mobs nationwide. The gathering of students at Kasetsart University in Bangkok's Bang Khen district yesterday was just one of several protests held across the nation this week with more scheduled in the coming days.

On Thursday, Srinakharinwirot University on Asoke Road was crowded with students, most of them freshmen and sophomores, who gathered on its football field to listen to students deliver speeches about the state of democracy in Thailand and the unfair treatment they believe was meted out to the Future Forward Party.

Tuanote, 20, a sophomore in the Faculty of Social Sciences, said he joined the activity because he wanted to oust the Prayut government. "We're not just representing the six million voices silenced by the disbanding of the Future Forward Party, but also those who want this country to be a real democracy," he said.

Police say students are free to exercise their right to assembly but have given them a stern warning against making any reference to the monarchy.

On Friday, a group of students who rallied in Chanthaburi province were fined 5,000 baht each for breaking the public assembly law, police said yesterday. Some 800 students of Rambhai Barni Rajabhat University and their supporters had gathered in a field near the university after management refused to let themuse the campus.

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