Saturday, February 17, 2018

Freedom of Assembly Wins, and the Courts affirmed their rights - 'We Walk...Friendship/Solidarity'

The people of Thailand inspires us into action to struggle and further promote our rights and  freedoms...People themselves need to act - time for dependency on politicians and political parties must end...
The' We Walk...Friendship/Solidarity' of the ordinary people of Thailand has concluded today(17/2/2018). Congrats to the people of Thailand in your quest for justice, human rights and democracy. - See their PUBLIC STATEMENT ISSUED 17/2/2018 below.

Of interest also, is the fact that the Courts stood strong and justly recognised the people's right to freedom of assembly. The Courts have spoken - and hopefully, the government will listen to the Courts, and drop all charges against the 8, and the many others involved in solidarity peaceful assembly in other parts of Thailand...
The Supreme Administrative Court has upheld the lower court’s ruling protecting "We Walk" marchers. The ruling, read by the Central Administrative Court on Thursday afternoon, instructs the police chief. to order the commanders of Police Regions 3 and 4 not to block or obstruct their gatherings and to provide them with conveniences and security until Saturday, the last day of the march. - Bangkok Post, 15/2/2018(Follow link to read full report)
See earlier relevant posts
Public Statement  
We walk Friendship Walk 
“A roadmap to democracy by the people”
17 February 2018  

To all comrades of ‘We walk Friendship Walk’, all of those who have walked on foot with us, the folk who have shown their solidarity with us, those who have expressed opinions, those who have asked about our wellbeing, those who have greeted us along the way, those who have brought us supplies and food, those who have offered us accommodation and money, we have eventually arrived at our destination.  

We have walked over 450 kilometers starting from 20 January until 16 February 2018, 28 days and more than 800,000 steps.  

Our start was plagued with obstacles. Surveillance has been imposed on us as if we were criminals. Charges have been pressed against us in an attempt to prevent us from exercising our constitutional rights. We were deprived even with places to sleep as the hosts had been subject to pressure from the authorities. But instead of deterring us, such obstacles have simply galvanized us making us even more determined and unwavering to nurture more friendship and to befriend more people on the road of friendship.

Our friendship walk has shown how democracy can still be relished on the road by the people. Amidst the callous crackdown, the looting of our voting rights, we were made aware that many friends along the way share with us the same ideas. And they shall rise up to uphold popular democracy; their voice shall never fade away from the road.  
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Legal actions have been maliciously taken against those gathering on the Skywalk in front of the MBK Shopping Mall in Bangkok of the MBK39 to demand elections. It has led to 39 persons being taken to court for violating the Head of the NCPO Oder no. 3/2558. Such a SLAPP case has also been brought against friends of the We walk Friendship Walk, the villagers at Doi Thevada Village, Tambon Sob Bong, Phusang District, Phayao. 14 of them have been charged for violating the Head of the NCPO Oder no. 3/2558 as a result of their showing solidarity with us. We, members of the We walk Friendship Walk, want to extend our solidarity and well wishes to all comrades who have taken to the street to uphold their rights and freedom of expression and public assembly. We want to demonstrate how such rights can be exercised under whichever ruling system we find ourselves in.  

This friendship walk is also a litmus test to Thailand’s judicial system under the military rule as we have been granted an injunction from the  Administrative Court. As a result, competent officers of the public assembly law are bound to provide us protection and to facilitate out walk for its entire route. The Court’s decision has surprisingly yield friendlier gesture from the police. We would like to thank our police brothers and sisters who have made their best to ensure our peaceful and uninterrupted walk. 

We, however, condemn interventions by other administrative officers, security officers and military officers who have been persecuting and harassing us all the way during the walk. Plainclothes officers have been dispatched to follow and monitor us. Such officers have concealed their identities and affiliations, unlike the police. Pressure has been put on sisters and brothers who have come out to show their solidarity with us. The officers have gone to their homes and threatened their families. Last but not least, we regret the role of Khon Kaen University which instead of offering a space to make voices of the community heard to serve the spirit of the university, has turned its back on the people and their community. 

Throughout the entire route and through every firm stem taken we left behind enduring hopes and inspirations 
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We aspire and dream of a society in which people from all walk of life, from cradle to grave, shall be accorded with basic welfares and rights, equally among themselves. All people should be entitled to health security and attain quality of living, equally. The universal healthcare scheme must be left intact and people must not be required to help pay for the medical bill.
Such noble scheme must not be desecrated and people must not be made downtrodden population who simply have to wait for a scrap of social relief and merit making. Everyone should be treated equal human beings and everyone must have access to some kind of security. It must be guaranteed that every one of us earns enough to provide for ourselves and our families and to live a dignified life in our old age.  

We aspire and dream of a government with policies that refrain from dismantling our food security and to provide for assurance that every people is able to live and rely on themselves. We shall not be enslaved by the food industry that has taken away our land, our plant varieties and our livestock, while promoting the use of chemicals in agriculture, illegal technologies and fishing tools that are destructive to natural resources. The food industry has also endeavored to develop marketing mechanisms and prowess that makes livelihood of small people vulnerable. Small scale farmers and ordinary people must be entitled to the right to preserve their plant varieties to grow their own food and to freely exchange and sell them to other people without being controlled and subjected to the monopolization of the investors and multinational corporations since all the plant varieties and natural resources belong to none, but us all.  

We aspire and dream of a peaceful life in which the environment and community right are not in peril. No laws shall be promulgated to make an exemption to the enforcement of city and town planning ordinances to pave the way for the construction of waste-to-energy power plants and the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) teemed with polluting factories that wreak havoc local people’s and community’s health and quality of life. Environmental protection laws must not be subjected to modification to pave the way to an onslaught of industrial development projects based on the change made on rules and regulations to allow Environmental and Health Impact Assessment to be approved so fast and without public participation. Eventually, people’s voices must be heard and they must be a part of the effort to manage their own community and resources.  

We aspire and dream of a society in which a democratic constitution is well established based on public participation. This should have led to an enabling environment in which people can exercise their rights and freedoms, can communicate, express themselves and participate in free and fair elections. It is our hope and aspiration to stand on our own feet and to live a dignified life. We shall press ahead with the effort to have all the repressive Orders and Announcements revoked including the Head of the NCPO Oder no. 3/2558, the Head of the NCPO Oder no. 64/2557, the latter of which has been used to forcibly evict the poor from the forest and their farmland.  
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It is our hope and aspiration to promote the four pillars that have prompted us to organize the ‘We walk Friendship Walk’. They are the four basic political and social necessities essential for building movements against projects, policies and laws that are unfair. The four basic political and social necessities permeate in all our actions.  

We look for connecting with each other since we all look forward to making possible a peaceful and sustainable society.  

We look for connecting with each other to unfold nascent political and social work which ‘deepens the connections of people and community in their political struggles’.  

Amidst the crises stemming from a government led by coup-makers, not an elected government, when absolute power has been relentlessly wielded without checks and balances, corruptions have been rampant, while scrutiny and accountability leave much to be desired. We live in a country where the rulers are being questioned, where doubts about their integrity are bountiful. Yet, none of the rulers have shown their responsibilities to address such doubts. Instead, they have made no intention to hide their desire to cement their power hoping to stay on in power for a long time. Still, we have the hope and the aspiration that with our two arms and two legs, we shall continue to walk on the road of friendship; this is just a first step of such long lasting friendship.

On behalf of the People Go Network Forum composed of five people’s networks including;  
    1. The people’s network for state welfare and people for universal healthcare  
    2. The alternative agriculture and food security network  
    3. The natural resource, the environment and community rights network 
    4. The network of academics and lawyers that monitors the Constitution, democracy, elections and violation of freedoms and rights 
    5. The Four Region Slum Network and network of the homeless  

Being concerned with and caring for the crises that wreaked the country, we have decided to start walking to show our power.  The “Friendship Walk” is an attempt to reclaim our right to participate in decision making and self-determination. It provides a chance for groups, organizations, and networks to make known to public their lack of security in life, how they have been deprived of rights and welfares, how they have been deprived of their rights to natural resources, how their food security is being compromised, how their political rights are restricted and most importantly, how their rights, freedoms and humanity are being denigrated.  

All of us are members of the We walk Friendship Walk. Through walking, we nourish friendship that connects us all among those whose opinions can be diverse. We invite us all to come and share your problems, to express yourselves, to enhance our mutual understanding and to have a free exchange without belittling each other. It is a walk to enhance our quality of life. It is a walk to assert people’s right and people’s participation in all fronts of national development.  

And we declare this is just a first step. Our hope and aspiration for a beautiful world are crystal clear. We shall collectively chart our future. We shall turn our backs to the center of power and move toward the rural sector. And to make their first step firm, we declare; 

“Power must belong to the people”. And we hope that a “second step” shall be taken everywhere since “democracy cannot exist without people”.

Last but not least, with our firm belief in the power and rights and freedoms of the people, Down with Dictatorship! Long live Democracy!  

With our trust in the power and rights and freedoms of the people 
The People GO Network Forum 
We walk Friendship Walk
17 February 2018

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