BANGKOK — Yesterday wasn’t the best day for pro-democracy activist Sirawith Seritiwat.
Sirawith, aka Ja New, described being trapped and surrounded by dozens of junta supporters inside the Election Commission office Wednesday as “very scary” even with police present to keep order.
Sirawith arrived in the afternoon with about a dozen others to the commission’s offices to perform a song and dance number protesting the draft charter when an estimated 30 to 40 men and women emerged from vans at the same spot to hurl verbal abuse and threats, mostly aimed at Sirawith.
Police rushed the 23-year-old student into the commission’s office which was then surrounded by pro-junta counter-protesters. Sirawith said he was trapped inside from 3:40pm to 6:20pm and was unable to carry out his much-awaited anti-junta hip hop dance.
“They eventually took me out through a back door,” said Sirawith, a postgraduate political science student at Thammasat University and the protest movement’s most recognizable face.
The event had been widely promoted online as a follow-up to a video recently released showing various activists singing and dancing against the charter, the release of which angered authorities.
“We have to be prepared for opponents in the future,” Sirawith said. “The police didn’t dare deal with these people who threatened to physically assault us, but instead took us away to be kept somewhere.”
Among the invective hurled at Sirawith included repeated accusations he is bent on overthrowing the monarchy.
Resistant Citizen’s music video featuring well-known activists singing and dancing against the draft charter
“Why are you here? Why are you causing disturbances?” one woman shouted.
Pansak Srithep, a leader in the pro-democracy Resistant Citizen group said he was there Wednesday but managed to make his escape sooner. Pansak took to the internet today to question why police didn’t remove the aggressors from the area.
“Or was it that the other side is well-organized, and police are afraid of them or those behind them?” he wrote.
Sirawith, whose boyish face and bearing have become widely recognized, said he’s been threatened before and will have to be more careful. He said a man on a big motorcycle stopped to verbally threaten him earlier this year as he waited at a bus stop.
“While I’m travelling alone, I try to stick with places where there are people,” If I wait at a bus stop, I’ll choose a crowded one. At night, I don’t go to secluded areas.”