LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – On Monday morning, employees of the Royal Thai Consulate-General of Los Angeles and nearby pedestrians were greeted by protesters standing in support of the 14 students who were arrested in Bangkok on June 26.
On Monday, June 29, ENGAGE, a non-profit network called for a return of democracy in Thailand through a protest outside the Thai Consulate in Los Angeles. (Photo credit: Jeremy Starn)
The event was organized by the Educational Network for Global and Grassroots Exchange (ENGAGE), a non-profit network of community activists based in the United States that has been campaigning alongside students from the Neo-Democracy Movement in Thailand and rural groups in the Northeast to support people’s movements and community rights.
The protesters expressed their solidarity with Thai students and villagers as they protested Article 44 of the military-imposed 2014 Interim Constitution and the general suppression of human rights since the May 2014 coup.
Seven members of the Khon Kaen University student group Dao Din were detained briefly on May 22 after holding a protest against the military junta’s one-year anniversary in power. They were detained again on June 26 after holding a protest on June 25 and formally charged for disturbing public peace and violating NCPO Order 3/2558 which bans political gatherings of five or more people. An additional seven activists from the Neo-Democracy movement are also being detained. All are awaiting a military trial where they face up to seven years in prison if found guilty.
Fourteen pairs of shoes symbolize each student arrested in Bangkok for peaceful protesting. (Photo credit: Jeremy Starn)
“We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Thailand. Everyone, regardless of where they are born, should be allowed basic human rights and the freedom to organize,” said Jude Peckinpaugh, a member of ENGAGE who recently returned from Thailand. “This action is to show that we support the students’ recent non-violent civil disobedience and demand that they are released from prison.”
Jude Peckinpaugh announced the demands of ENGAGE in solidarity with the Neo-Democracy Movement. (Photo credit: Jeremy Starn)
The protesters delivered six demands to Consul General Jesda Kataventin in order to show support for the detained Thai students and Na Nong Bong villagers in Thailand’s Loei Province. Among their demands are the repeal of Article 44, an end of military court trials for civilians, release of the student protesters, and an investigation of the activities of the Tungkum Limited Company gold mine activities in Loei Province.
Protesters also called for an end of military harassment of villagers in the Northeast fighting for their right to livelihood and a safe environment.
ENGAGE received a response from the Consular General in Los Angeles on June 30 confirming that their demands had been passed on to the government in Bangkok.
Zoe Swartz and Cat Darin, ENGAGE members, discussed the goals of the protest with an onlooker originally from Chiang Mai. (Photo credit: Jeremy Starn)