ABOVE: A caricature of an ISIS jihadist transforms into one of junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha at Friday’s annual football match between Thammasat and Chulalongkorn universities. Video: Matichon
Thammasat University students said yesterday that state interference with their annual send-up of domestic policies on Friday was proof-positive that freedom of expression is in serious peril.
After outfoxing security forces by sneaking anti-junta messages into their annual parade before a football match against Chulalongkorn University, the Thammasat University Political Parody group said they’ve never needed to hide their message
“In previous years, the organization did not need to conceal messages expressed in the political parody parade,” the said in a message yesterday. “But what happened [on Friday] has proved that if we hadn’t, we wouldn’t have been allowed in the stadium.”
Military officials had asked students to outright cancel this year’s parade, an annual rite in which they satirize current events and politics in a march around the National Stadium before the rival universities face off.
However when the students said their floats addressed such things as the economy, highlighted Gen. Prayuth’s “12 Values,” and the transnational terrorist group known as ISIS, the officials relented, according to Khaosod English.
As they entered the stadium, a radical transformation played out.
False banners and other quick changes turned the ISIS fighter into a parody of Prayuth. His “12 Values” were replaced by the word “democracy” crossed-out with blood.
Security forces in civilian clothes were caught on video snatching many of the banners containing political messages from the hands of students, but they did not or were unable to stop the parade.
The game is an old tradition in which Thammasat, a university long associated with championing democratic ideals, faces off against rival Chulalongkorn, where many of the nation’s elite study.
Meanwhile hundreds of students gathered in the bleachers performed deft card-flipping stunts to create large messages criticizing a number of issues, from bad taxi drivers to naughty monks.
“[We] want democracy,” the final card message read. “When will you give it back to us?”
Thammasat’s football team went on to shut out Chulalongkorn 2-0.
Photo: Courtesy Khaosod