Organized by the Red Shirt group called the Declaration of Street Justice, recently renamed the January 29 For the Release of Political Prisoners group, the protesters called on the government to recognize an amnesty proposal that was drafted by the Nitirat Law group of Thammasat University. The proposal would achieve amnesty through constitutional reform, which in itself continues to be a pressing issue for the government. The protesters demanded a response by 6pm, after which the government replied that it would consider all amnesty proposals carefully.
UDD leader Tida Tawornseth expressed her gratitude to Tuesday’s protesters, she said,
We thank everybody who came out yesterday to show the government that Thailand needs amnesty for the people. Regardless of what method is proposed and ultimately implemented, we share the common goal of freeing political prisoners.
The UDD has proposed a draft amnesty decree that could be issued by the government without delay. The decree would free all political prisoners immediately and lift politically-motivated charges on hundreds of individuals. Critics have argued that the government could face constitutional challenges if they issued the decree. Sections 184-185 of the Constitution stipulate that decrees must be “for the purpose of maintaining national or public safety or economic security” and could be subject to a Constitutional Court review.
In response, Tida said,
If the Democrat party want to go to the Constitutional Court and try to put freed political prisoners back in jail, that is their prerogative.
Red Shirt activists who rallied on Tuesday were confident that the government would answer their call to action. Red Radio DJ Wut Tasawang told Thai Red Shirts that the government must move on the issue of amnesty.
The government must act because the political prisoners fought for democracy in Thailand. Even if the Pheu Thai administration’s power is limited, the people will give it the support and strength it needs to move forward.