Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Juntacracy in Action: Police Tell Rural Folks to Stay Upcountry After Songkran

Police 'ask' rural folks to stay up-country

By Wassayos Ngamkham

Bangkok Post

Political tension is expected to escalate after the Songkran holiday ends today, as a number of anti-government groups based in the provinces are reportedly preparing to stage mass protests in Bangkok. At Sanam Luang, a merit-making ceremony sponsored by the government, is to be held from today until Sunday. Officers hope people in the provinces will refrain from travelling to Bangkok to join political protests.

Deputy national police chief Wichian Potphosri said mass demonstrations in the capital could lead to public disturbances which could get out of hand.

The Interior Ministry would be largely responsible for blocking protesters in the provinces from joining mass demonstrations in Bangkok, Pol Gen Wichian said.

Police would work with provincial governors and the Internal Security Operations Command to persuade those groups and their supporters to stay in their home provinces, said Pol Gen Wichian.

He said some protesters would likely try to enter Bangkok in the guise of holidaymakers returning to the capital from the provinces.

Security measures would be beefed up at Sanam Luang, he said.

Organisers of any public gathering must first seek permission from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to use the public ground at Sanam Luang, Pol Gen Wichian said.

Such requests would be considered on a case-by-case basis in view of the fact Sanam Luang has already been booked for the merit-making ceremony sponsored by the government, he said.

Rally organisers with good records of compliance with the BMA's regulations would likely be granted permission first, he added.

Deputy governor Vallop Suwandee said almost the entire area of Sanam Luang is reserved for the merit-making ceremony.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. The juntacrats keep finding creative ways to prevent protesters from politically expressing themselves at Sanam Luang.

Maybe the army should declare the entire South a merit making zone to keep the terrorists from attacking people also.

Also, I think it is interesting that a junta that came to power under the guise of "restoring real democracy" really takes a lot of time censoring the internet, controlling the broadcast media, limiting political freedom in the new constitution, buying off academics, politicians and journalists, and keeping rural folk from coming to Bangkok to peacefully assemble at Sanam Luang. Of course, my hypocritical detractors will say that we need to kill democracy(at least for the majority of people who are pro-Thaksin and anti-junta) in order to save it.

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