'We Walk' ends with pledge to uphold democracy

A statement on ‘A roadmap to democracy by the people’ is read on the last day of the march in Khon Kaen on Saturday. (Facebook/People Go Network)

The We Walk march has ended after 28 days, with activists pledging to uphold their goal of universal welfare which they insist could be realised only when democracy is restored.

“We’ve reached our destination despite obstacles. The march shows democracy still exists. It’s also a test of the judicial system under the military government,” said Lertsak Kamkongsak, a representative of the People Go Network, which organised the march.

He expressed a disappointment in Khon Kaen University, which did not allow them to hold activities on campus.

“Khon Kaen University has turned its back on rights and academic freedom, as well as communities,” he said.

The group pledged to realise its dream of creating a state which provides universal welfare from cradle to grave, he said.

“The gold card [under the 30-baht healthcare programme] must not be changed into a co-pay system. People must have enough money to take care of themselves when they grow old. The government must not destroy food security and they must allow people to manage their natural resources.

“Above all, the constitution must be democratic, people must have rights and freedom and a free and fair election must be held soon,” he said.

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The activists started their 450km march from Thammasat University Rangsit campus on Jan 20, when police tried to stop them, citing violation of the junta’s order. They finally had to split into groups of fewer than five each in order to start the journey.

Along the way, the claimed to be under surveillance and people who would like to join or talk to them were prevented from doing so.

They filed a complaint with the Central Administrative Court to stop authorities from trying to block their activities. The court granted them an injunction on Jan 26 but police appealed the decision. The Supreme Administrative Court upheld the lower court’s ruling on Thursday.   

Along the way, they met with people and sought their opinions on environmental and state welfare issues.

Among the four main issues, one for each week, was the universal healthcare programme, which they fear could be turned into charity without public participation in the process.

The second issue is food security, with the focus on farmers owning the seed and safe, environmentally friendly farming.

Third, they discussed laws that don’t restrict human and community rights right and promote appropriate and fair resource allocation through policies laid down jointly by local people, not the government as an answer to urbanites.

The last week focuses on low-income earners and their plights after the government seems to view them as nuisances. Their stalls were forced to move from streets and beaches and some of them were forced out of their living quarters. They also have to register and allow themselves to be branded low-income earners in order to have access to welfare.