I was hoping to take a little bit of a break after successfully campaigning against the British National Party in the run up to the British general and local elections. However at the early hours of Tuesday 18th May, I received an email from Junya Lek Yimprasert, founder of Thai Labour Campaign, asking for solidarity and a demonstration in support of the people of Thailand for Thursday 20th May.
My initial reaction was “not bloody likely!” but then moments later I heard on BBC Radio 4, a report about the violence and I guessed that the government preparing for an onslaught against the “Red Shirts” in the occupied commercial district of Bangkok.
For all I knew, Lek could have been dodging bullets and my excuse was “I need a break” So within hours of receiving that ominous request. I positively responded by emailing all my “activist” friends regarding her request, setting up a Facebook page called “International Solidarity for Thailand” and organising a demonstration outside the Royal Thai Embassy (though initially publishing the wrong address!).
The clear demands to begin with were:
There was already present and well founded evidence that this was happening and by Thursday morning I was grimly proved right. With 48 hours notice, over 240 people had joined the group, over 1000 people had been invited to the UK solidarity event (at the correct address) and about a 12 or so activists (mostly Thai) were waiting to start the protest, almost entirely made up of people whom I had never met.
We used these slogans on posters:
Also we chanted:
In this second video, a female speaker also gives her view on the protest and what needs to be done.
The police did disrupt our protest but only to move us to the other side of the road which the videos show. Sergeant Nunn, a Metropolitan Police Officer who questioned me, initially asked for my name, I told him it was “Justin”, and then asked for my surname. I refused and asked why he needed it, he responded by saying that it was for “intelligence purposes”, on that point, I then continued to refuse to offer any more information.
He was clearly perturbed by my lack of cooperation and so then he warned me if I refused to cooperate he would ask everyone else for their details. I welcomed him to do so then as he started I told everyone else to offer no information to the police as they can’t arrest us as we have committed no crime, all the protestors compiled with my request. After 5 minutes of trying to extract personal details from all of us, Sergeant Nunn proceeded to ask me to describe my ethnicity, I told him that I was from a demonised community which was constantly persecuted in the community, that I am White, Eastern European to be precise. He said that though he respected my wishes to self-define as White he believed I was Afro-Caribbean and asked if that was fair. I told him no.
Though I have been “stopped and accounted” a few times, I have to confess that Sergeant Nunn was though initially very stern, he was remained professional and eventually laughed at some of my jokes.
He then left us to it I made the videos above and came back to ask if we would be back. I told him hopefully not, Abhisit would realise by the weekend that ordering the shooting and murders of his own people meant his unelected government would have to step down. If my optimism is proved wrong then we may be back but I did not know when.
Sergeant Nunn finally checked in a very subtle way that my name actually was Justin and then left for the final time.
The next UK demonstration is going ahead, for more details click here.
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