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Thailand Police Detains Student Protesters During Coup Anniversary

Students gather in a plaza during the coup anniversary.  They were later arrested by the police. Photo from Facebook page of LLTD

Students gather in a plaza during the coup anniversary. They were later arrested by the police. Photo from Facebook page of LLTD

Dozens of students have been arrested in Thailand for holding protests during the first anniversary of the May 2014 coup. At the time of writing, 48 have been detained for publicly speaking out against the military-backed government.

The army launched a coup in 2014 to end the political turmoil in the country. It controlled the media and banned protests including the gathering of five or more people in public places. Before the end of 2014, it drafted an interim charter which became the basis in establishing a civilian government led by military appointees. The army chief, Prayut Chan-o-cha, was selected prime minister.

Despite prohibitions imposed by the army, many Thais, especially youth have called for the restoration of democracy in the country. They have consistently demanded the return of the free media, open elections, and civilian rule.

The army revoked martial law last April but it still retains almost unlimited powers in the government.

The iLaw research group cited some of the activities of the army in the past year which undermined human rights:

After the coup, at least 751 individuals were summoned by the NCPO [name of the military-backed government]. At least 424 were deprived of liberty. Some have been forced to undergo “attitude adjustment” to re-educate them about the necessity for the military to seize the power and then let go. Meanwhile, at least 163 individuals have been pressed with political charges. At least, 71 public activities were intervened or cancelled by the use of military force.

Journalist Saksith Saiyasombut criticized the excessive regulations of the army:

Not only is it like a bad teacher that expects its students only to obediently memorize stuff, but also like an overbearing nanny overlooking us at every step.

Below are some of the photos of students arrested by the police yesterday:

A group which calls itself Young People for Social-Democracy Movement (YPD) released a statement against the coup regime:

We cannot build a democratic society if we lack freedom, liberty, rights, justice, and reconciliation. We believe that peace in society will not be born out of a lack of resistance. Peace in the society will only be born out of equality and justice in terms of power, economics, and politics.

A year after the army launched a coup, Thailand is still suffering from political instability. The people wanted respite from the incessant squabbling of politicians but not at the cost of a military government which was quick to rescind civil liberties.

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