Thailand: Students arrested for calling on PM to resign
February 4, 2019, 11:00 am
On 2 February 2019, students Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak from Thammasat University and Tanawat Wongchai, from Chulalongkorn University, went to Government House to call on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign. The students read a statement, then hung chilies, salt, and garlic on the fence of Government House.
“If you look just at the national interest, today Thailand’s reputation has declined because you have postponed the election so many times that we have lost credibility. Since the election is now set, we want it to be free, honest, and fair,” said Parit.
Speaking of the things brought to the protest, he said “garlic, according to western beliefs, can chase away blood-sucking vampires, but we are not sure if it can chase away tax-sucking vampires, power-sucking vampires and democracy-sucking vampires. Today, let’s see if it works.
Police arrived at the scene to arrest the two students, and pressed charges under Article 10 of the 2015 Public Assembly Act, claiming that they had failed to give 24 hours advance notice of the protest. Police also took the chilies, salt, and garlic as evidence. They released students at 21.00 and investigators will later summon them to Dusit District Court.
The protest was a response to Prayut’s earlier statement – “oust me if you can, jerk” – on 1 February 2019 at 11.00 while delivering a speech on the government’s 4-year record. Even though Prayuth apologized that afternoon for being rather out of line, it was too late. The two students had already tweeted that they would accept the challenge to oust the PM.
The next day, Ekkachai Hongkangwan supported the students by hanging a plastic bag of mangoes on the fence of Government House, saying “one should eat mango with chilies and salt.” In Thailand, chilies and salt make a favourite dip for mangoes.