American Thais and Thai supporters demand political rights for students in Thailand.
This is the second time this month that a group has gathered here in Los Angeles, adding to a growing movement of Thais and Thai supporters in the U.S. mounting international pressure on the Thai military to stop its crackdown on citizens. “Our Thai friends are subject to military prison for what we are doing here,” said Rachel Karpelowitz an organizer with ENGAGE who lived in Thailand working alongside the New Democracy Movement. “We are here using the political rights we have to fight for democracy there.” Similar protests have been staged in San Francisco and New York.
The demonstration had a diverse attendance, including members of both the Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts, political factions in Thailand that have clashed in often bloody struggles for power in Thailand. Today, however, members of both sides came together to put their country first. “Right now Thailand is under dictatorship and with this situation people cannot do anything to protect themselves or their community. Even though my friends are no longer in prison, under the dictatorship Thai people are not allowed freedom of speech or assembly,” stated Chutiphong Pipoppinyo, a San Francisco based member of the New Democracy Movement. “It makes little difference whether they are in jail or not, we still aren’t free. In order to free all people we have to release all political prisoners and bring democracy back to Thailand, that is why I have to keep fighting.”
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