January 22, 2014 00:00 By Budsarakham Sinlapalavan
Deadly grenade attacks on anti-government protesters last week have forced peace-loving groups to revise how they organise anti-violence activities.
“We won’t campaign to call more people to gather at the same place because now there’s an escalation of the situation. We don’t know what will happen so we decided to avoid causes of violent situations, “Kittichai Ngarmchaipisit, a founder of YaBasta Thailand, said.
For example, several groups now work separately to bind white fabrics at several places at the same time, he said.
YaBasta Thailand has campaigned by wearing white shirts and using lit candles as a symbol of peace. It drew responses from several groups such as employees and students.
Kittichai said the violence that is happening would produce an undesirable result for people who want to see an election, whether it causes the poll to be postponed or a military coup.
YaBasta’s next plan is to hold a “Market Fair” with tents that identify the diverse opinions of people who will join such as “Want to see an election, don’t want to see violence”, “Want to see an election, don’t like Thaksin”, “Want to see an election, don’t like Pheu Thai” or “Want to see an election, don’t like the Democrat Party”.
Today there are many groups using white shirts and lit candles as a gimmick but he could not allow or disallow someone to copy his activities. Everyone has the right to campaign peacefully.
Even former red shirts are now wearing white shirts, which might put his group in a negative light. But Kittichai said it was up to everyone’s personal opinion and his group would follow a peaceful path.
Every time his group has an activity it tries to avoid hate speeches, as it is campaigning for peace – not to incite protesters into hating someone who thinks differently.
Nuttigra Woratunyawit, from Stop Violence, said her group would also change its modus operandi after the bomb attacks.
“Now the group is still talking about activities because we are worried about people who join in our campaign” she said.
The group campaigns to stop using violence against each other by also wearing white shirts and lighting candles as a symbol of peace.
Other groups are mounting similar campaigns but each has the right to do that, as she could not forbid someone from wearing a white shirt or lighting candles.