Thai University Says It Won’t Allow Protesters to Use Campus
(Bloomberg) -- A top Thai university said it won’t allow anti-government protesters to use its campus for a rally in support of their demand for greater democracy and lesser power for the nation’s monarchy.
The planned gathering by a students and youths group on Sept. 19 isn’t in line with Thammasat University’s guidelines allowing only political demonstrations that “support the learning of rights, liberties and responsibilities within the constitution, and respect differences in opinions in a democratic system,” it said in a letter on Thursday.
The United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration said Wednesday it planned to use the university campus to hold a “historic” protest of up to 100,000 participants to demand a rewrite of the constitution. Over the past few months, anti-government protests led by mostly students, have escalated, with various groups using digital spaces to set meetings and spread their demands.
Parit Chiwarak, one of the student activists, who was earlier arrested and released on bail on charges including sedition, said Thursday the rally will proceed as planned.
The demonstrators are breaking deeply entrenched taboos in Thailand, where openly criticizing the monarchy can lead to long jail sentences. The protests are more reminiscent of the leaderless flash mobs that occurred in Hong Kong and other parts of the world rather than previous ones in which Thai protesters shut down certain streets in Bangkok and stayed for months.
The mounting protests present a challenge for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, a former army chief who led a 2014 coup and stayed in charge after a disputed election conducted under rules written by his military government. Prayuth has said that he’s not against rewriting parts of the constitution, and that the government was looking into the possible amendment of the charter that was drafted by the junta ahead of last year’s election.
National Police Chief Chakthip Chaijinda said Thursday the prime minister has asked security forces to avoid the use of any force on protesters.
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