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TRT supporter emailed and distributed message urging participation in rally, warning CNS to step down
Thursday, November 2, 2006
By Nattaya Chetchotiros Subin Khaikaew
Around 200 protesters gathered at Sanam Luang yesterday to rally against the Council for National Security (CNS) after hundreds of thousands of leaflets were distributed inviting the public to converge in a protest.
Observers said the rally was an attempt to test the waters for possible dissent.
CNS chairman Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin said the CNS did not pay much attention to the rally.
Chanapat na Nakhon, a businessman from Nakhon Si Thammarat and a Thai Rak Thai (TRT) supporter, posted email messages in Thai, English and French, and distributed leaflets urging participation in the rally.
"We want to warn the CNS and the illegitimate government that if they do not step down by the end of October, on Nov 1 at 4 pm, there will be a mass rally to purge the dictators at Sanam Luang," said a statement he signed. "We will fight against the dictators there until we win or lose."
The rally began at 4pm with only 20 participants who were clearly outnumbered by reporters and photographers. Police and military officers were also present to keep order.
The number of protesters, who defied the CNS's ban on political gatherings of more than five people, grew to around 200 by 7pm.
They later dispersed but not before scheduling the next rally for Saturday.
Mr Chanapat said that he was satisfied with the turnout given the imposition of martial law. He expects a larger crowd next time.
The military had tried to obstruct the rally, he claimed. A group of supporters and audio-visual equipment planned for use during the rally was blocked from reaching Sanam Luang by military staff in Nong Kham, he said.
Mr Chanapat has asked for protection from the United Nations and the National Human Rights Commission.
Suriyasai Katasila, secretary-general of the Campaign for Popular Democracy (CPD), said Mr Chanapat has close connections with Surachai sae Dan, a former key member of the now defunct Communist Party of Thailand now linked to key TRT members.
However, Mr Suriyasai did not think TRT was behind the rally as he did not think the party would consider it worth the risk of becoming a target of CNS action. Defence Minister Boonrawd Somtas said it was unlikely martial law would be lifted soon. The government knew about the rally beforehand and instructed the army to block people from travelling to the protest, he said.
Rumours of protesters from the North being mobilised to Bangkok have also increased, prompting the CNS to raise its guard.
Date Posted: 11/2/2006
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