BANGKOK: High school students rallied in Bangkok on Saturday to protest Thailand’s poor education system.
It was the first mass rally in the state since Prime Minister Prayut Chen-o-cha warned that pro-democracy protesters would be subjected to all laws, including allegations of severe royal defamation.
Since August, in the wake of widespread political protests in Thailand, a group called “Bad Students” has campaigned for the resignation of Education Minister Nataphol Tiposwan, calling for cultural change, equality, curriculum restoration and What is the demand for relaxation of strict laws?
Ahead of Saturday’s rally, three student leaders were summoned for questioning by police, and Thai lawyers for human rights said four minors were now facing possible legal action.
But despite the threats, the young men continued to deviate when they danced with half a dozen T-Rex characters representing Thailand’s “political dinosaurs” and bounced around giant “asteroid” balls.
“We have to come out and make our voices heard,” Leaf, 15, told AFP.
Many students wore colorful wristbands to indicate that they were too young to be protected by elderly protesters. “School (for girls) is not a safe place,” said one student’s placard.
Hundreds of protesters wore rubber duck volleyball clips to the rally on Tuesday, a reference to pro-democracy protesters who used pool water cannons and pool toys to protect themselves from police on Tuesday.
Many protesters were worried that the poor quality of the family’s education would lead to extra tuition fees.
“I spend so much on my daughter’s tuition fees and she needs to enroll in a distance school so that she can get a good education. That shouldn’t be the case,” said the 41-year-old who attended the rally with his daughter. Sappuran Pratmarat said.
Azi, 18, went to the United States last year on a student exchange and said students there could pursue hobbies and pursuits after school, but many Thai students do not enjoy it.
“Some students in Thailand go to extra classes from 4pm to 9pm,” he told AFP.
Since July, youth-led protests in Thailand have erupted, demanding a new constitution, unprecedented demands for reform of the untouchable monarchy and the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut, who came to power in the 2014 coup.
On Tuesday, police used tear gas and water cannon are against protesters outside parliament and 55 people were injured during clashes between democracy activists and hardline Shahis which 6 people were injured. A day later, protesters graffitied outside the national police headquarters and threw paint into the complex. Tensions are likely to rise before the next major rally on Wednesday, with the government deciding to give the green light to police for allegations of royal defamation against pro-democracy protesters.
“Destroying public property, an unprecedented violation of the monarchy, I personally cannot accept,” Privat said Friday night.
In Thailand, lease majestic accusations are routinely interpreted to include any criticism of the monarchy. This includes content published or shared on social media.