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Thai students rally for educational, political reforms

Thai students rally for educational, political reforms

Bangkok: Secondary school students in Thailand's capital rallied Saturday for educational and political reforms, defying government threats to crack down with legal action against the country's high-profile protest movement.

The rally was called by a group that calls itself Bad Students, mocking their status as rebels against traditional school rules and authorities.

Reflecting their light touch toward protest actions, they used props including people in dinosaur suits and oversize beach balls standing in for asteroids. Just as an asteroid hitting the earth is believed to have led to the extinction of the dinosaurs, they pointed out, the old-fashioned members of Thailand's establishment impeding change will face a collision with the country's pro-democracy movement.

Though the original goals of the Bad Students included abolishing outmoded regulations such as dress codes and reforming antiquated curriculums, they now also support the demands of Thailand's broader pro-democracy movement, which seeks major political change.

Saturday's rally, held in one of Bangkok's busiest shopping areas, attracted a crowd of at least 1,000 people, many of whom were not secondary school students.

Namfon Jaruk, a 21-year-old college student, said it was appropriate for demonstrators to discuss issues beyond education. We are not just students. We are citizens of this country, too, she said. Students have rights to talk politics and anything that needs to be discussed. The rally came at the end of a week with two chaotic protests held by followers of the pro-democracy movement.

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