“We start counting from one together today
With our spirit united, we shall fight together
For a “new day” of happiness for all people
Bravely, we declare the war to restore people’s power!”
“I would like to post a poem ‘Counting from one’ by Kaew Kosum again on this page. The previous wave of protests has shown to us the power of protests led by the youth, including secondary school students, many of whom have just protested for the first time. That they have taken to the streets this time is not just because they are disgusted with the injustice and the government. But they also realize that if they stay idle, society will get even worse and everyone, including us, will continue to suffer from the same misery. Worse, we will pass on such a society to the next generations. Of course, no one wants to pass on such bad things to the next generation.”
“By counting from one together – to start our fight this time, we will ensure our fight is full of hope for change. I want everyone to believe in their potential and power. We hold on together, and if we unite together, we will definitely be able to make our society better. And when that day comes, the future of all of us and everyone will be beautiful. Let all the evil be abolished in our generation. #LetItEndInOurGeneration”
“With love and faith in the power of everyone
Prasit “James” Krutharoj wrote this memo on 24 July 2020 while participating in a public assembly led by students and the general public – the time when he was starting to receive a summons for his alleged violation of the Emergency Decree.
Nearly three months passed until the period when he was an inmate locked up in the Chiang Mai Central Prison, where he was being held for seven days before the court finally granted his bail request. From a history student to a prominent activist facing politically-motivated charges, let’s get to know “James.”
“James”, 26, came from Kamphaeng Phet. The sole son of his family, his mother works as a housekeeper for an office in the province. While in high school, James involved in activities similar to his fellow students, including the Buddhist club and joining a virtue contest project.
As his house is surrounded by cement plants, he was exposed to various social problems including the issues of migrant workers, the environment, and impoverishment which has revolved around his life since he was young.
After studying in the Department of Chinese Language in the Faculty of Humanities at Chiang Mai University until his second year, James migrated to study in the Department of History. He felt that deep down, the Department of Chinese Language did not serve his interest and he was more attracted to history.
While studying, he had to earn his own living. He needed to reduce his reliance on financial support from his family. He worked as a sociology tutor for high school students. He also worked as a cartomancy fortune teller and as a freelance speaker and event moderator.
He has to study longer than his fellow students since he spends so much time doing activities. After seven years, he has yet to finish his education. James is still a student and used to work in the student clubs of the Faculty of Humanities. He was elected as Vice-Chair of the Faculty’s student club. He also used to work with the rural development club of the university. They carried out rural development camps in various areas.
In his third year, James became a member of the Liberal Assembly of Chiang Mai University for Democracy which exposed him more to political activism. He started to organize public assemblies in the wake of the arrests of pro-democracy student activists in 2015 until the protests by the #WeWantElections alliance in early 2018. During the public assemblies led by students in 2020, James has been instrumental as speaker and MC in various events, particularly on behalf of the Community of Mor Chor.
His political activist roles put him under the spotlight and James became a target of harassment and surveillance. His mother has also been asked by the authorities to meet several times. And James continues to face a series of legal cases. To date, he has faced five cases including;
- The case related to the ‘We Want Elections’ demonstration at the entrance of Chiang Mai University on 13 February 2018(CMU06). Case has reached its verdict.
- The case related to the ‘We Want Elections’ demonstration from 21-22 May 2018 (UN62); as one of the organizers, he is still fighting the case at the Bangkok Criminal Court.
- The case related to #Don’tBackOutDon’tBearWithIt demonstration at Tha Phae Gate on 14 December 2019; the witness examination is finished and the verdict is pending at the Chiang Mai Municipal Court.
- The case related to #ChiangMaiCan’tStandIt demonstration at Tha Phae Gate on 19 July 2020, which is under review by the public prosecutors.
- The case related to #ChiangMaiCan’tStandItAnymore at Tha Phae Gate on 9 August 2020 which led to his remand in prison.
“I insist that our protests are peaceful and unarmed and are organized to criticize the performance of the government. It is a doable thing. It should not cause anyone to face a legal charge, whoever they are. Also, by opting to charge just the anti-government demonstrators, and to spare those who gathered to welcome the Prime Minister, it only reflects blatant discrimination.”
“Last but not least, we are not fighters, we are not heroes, we are just citizens who never surrender ourselves to injustice. We believe everyone can do what we do. And no one should face legal action as a result of demanding their own rights.”
“The government should listen. They should stop harassing the dissidents. They should call for the dissolution of the House and return power to the people. They should form a Constitutional Drafting Council whose members are elected by the people to ensure that the Constitution genuinely belongs to us and is the Constitution that respects the dignity of the people and recognizes them as owners of the sovereign power.”
On the day I receive another warrant.
23 July 2020”
Read related stories: