Academics and supporters of the 14 anti-coup student activists, who were released from detention on Wednesday, held a traditional blessing ceremony at Thammasat University late Friday afternoon.
During the ceremony, Rangsiman Rome and Jatupat Boonpataraksa, who are among the 14 members of New Democracy Movement (NDM) previously detained, reiterated that they will continue fighting through peaceful means.
“We did not win this time, but we’ll keep fighting,” Rangsiman said.
Jatupat, meanwhile, compared life outside to living inside prision.
“Whether it’s inside or outside [prison], we have no freedom,” the young activist, who is studying law at Khon Kaen University, said. Jatupat added that NDM would continue questioning the government and their policies, and work on trying to break the bipartisan politics of the Kingdom, where people are perceived through the colour of their political affiliation.
Thammasat University anthropologist Prajak Kongkirati, who was at the ceremony, said society should pay attention to the NDM core values such as non-violence and democracy.
Sudsanguan Suthisorn, an expert in criminal justice administration, said: “I’m proud of this group of students as they remain firmly committed to realising their ideology. They stand for what is right.” She added that the ruling-National Council for Peace and Order should understand that people want an elected government and freedom.
Army Chief of Staff General Chatchalerm Chalermsukh denies that the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is threatening parents of the 14 anti-coup students, saying the NCPO is not a mafia organization. He said soldiers have merely been sent to talk with the parents to explain why their children were arrested and detained and that no order was given to forbid anyone from airing differing political opinion.
“Soldiers cannot threaten anyone because if such action was taken then it won’t be different from goons or mafia. Soldiers who hold weapons cannot threaten anyone and if it is found that soldiers dispatched were speaking impolitely, please send a [video] clip or evidence to the Army immediately and I shall investigate it myself. I have never given such order,” insisted Chatchalerm.
Chatchalerm, who is also deputy secretary general of the NCPO added that he understand that people have differing political opinion but the country needs to maintain a climate of peace and reconciliation.