Top court protects 'We Walk' marchers

Top court protects 'We Walk' marchers

'We Walk' organisers and marchers celebrate their victory on Thursday after the Supreme Administrative Court upheld the lower court's order to grant them an injunction. (Photo from People GO network Facebook)
'We Walk' organisers and marchers celebrate their victory on Thursday after the Supreme Administrative Court upheld the lower court's order to grant them an injunction. (Photo from People GO network Facebook)

The Supreme Administrative Court has upheld the lower court’s ruling protecting "We Walk" marchers.

The ruling, read by the Central Administrative Court on Thursday afternoon, instructs the police chief to order the commanders of Police Regions 3 and 4 not to block or obstruct their gatherings and to provide them with conveniences and security until Saturday, the last day of the march.

The court also said if the petitioners and the activists violated the laws, police could set new conditions, order them to stop or ask the court to put an end to their activities.   

Lertsak Kamkongsak and three others filed suit against the Royal Thai Police (RTP) and seven others after authorities had tried to stop them when they started the march from Thammasat University Rangsit campus on Jan 20.

The petitioners asked the court to order the police to stop blocking them or restricting their assembly rights and to facilitate and protect them, as well as pay damages for the violations.

“Freedom of assembly can only be restricted in the name of internal security, public safety, social order or good morality of people. The petitioners had sent a letter informing the chief of the Khlong Luang police station of their gathering in advance and the police station’s chief did not have an objection or prohibited them,” read the ruling.

The Central Administrative Court granted the injunction to the marchers on Jan 26. The RTP appealed the order, claiming there had been no obstructions.

The marchers have walked for four weeks. As of Thursday afternoon, they covered 450km and were heading to the Democracy Monument in Muang district of Khon Kaen province.

Along the way, they met with people and sought their opinions on environmental and state welfare issues, which will be presented at Khon Kaen University on Saturday, according to the Facebook of People Go Network, who organised the march.

They have focused on four main issues, one for each week. According to the People Go Network Facebook, the first issue is the universal healthcare programme, which they fear could be turned into charity as the government seeks to revamp them without public participation.

The second issue is food security. They insist farmers should own the seed in the wake of the contract farming trend and urge safe, environmentally friendly farming.

Third, they discuss laws that don’t restrict human and community rights and promote appropriate and fair resource allocation through policies laid down with the participation of local people, not by the government as an answer to urbanites.

The last week focuses on low-income earners and their plights after the government seems to view them as nuisances. Their stalls were forced out of streets and beaches and some of them were forced out of their living quarters. They also have to register and let themselves be branded in order to have access to state welfare.

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