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Thammasat University officials ban September 19 protest



PHOTO: Khaosod English

Thammasat University, once a bastion of democratic voices and student expression, has refused permission for an anti-government protest, set to take place on its Tha Phra Chan campus in Bangkok, on September 19. University officials say they are banning the gathering as organisers have “failed to follow the institution’s guidelines” on hosting political events on campus.

Officials are referring to regulations issued on September 3, which they say are to facilitate education about civil rights and liberties, while remaining within the confines of the law and the current Thai Constitution, and respecting the safety of others. The Bangkok Post reports that the guidelines were drawn up following a rally on August 10 at the university’s Rangsit campus, where students unveiled their controversial 10 point manifesto.

The university’s outright ban on the September 19 rally comes after protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak vowed it would go ahead with or without permission. Speaking following news of the ban, Parit is doubling down on that statement. Organisers predicted some 50,000 people could have attended the protest.

“Although executives of Thammasat University will not allow the venue at Tha Prachan to be used for the gathering, we will still hold it at Thammasat because Thammasat belongs to the people, not to some dictator’s lackeys.”

As to how the protest organisers and University heads sort out the current impasse, nothing has been discussed at this stage.

Meanwhile, national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda says his officers have received orders from PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to avoid using force against the protesters and to focus on keeping peace and order.

In a separate development, the US Embassy in Bangkok has weighed into the fray, after allegations in some Thai media outlets that it supports the protesters. Photographs taken in 2016 that show Parit meeting Glyn Davies, US Ambassador at the time, have been shared on a website known for posting stories about US political involvement in Thailand. The site has been banned by Facebook for what the social media platform calls, “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. Nevertheless, the appearance of the 4 year old pictures has prompted the US Embassy to issue a statement denying it supports the anti-government movement.

“Ambassadors and Embassy personnel regularly meet with a broad cross section of Thai nationals, not just with students and youth, but also with government, military, business and other leaders. Such meetings do not imply endorsement of any views. The United States government is not funding or otherwise providing support to any of the protests in Thailand. The United States does not support any individual or political party; we support the democratic process and the rule of law. As friends of Thailand, we encourage all sides to continue to act with respect and restraint and engage in constructive dialogue on how to move the country forward.”

Meanwhile, the co-founder of the Progressive Movement, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, denies he’s controlling the protests from behind the scenes, saying the students can think for themselves and are exercising their right to freedom of speech under a democratic system.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand


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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Toby Andrews

    Friday, September 11, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    No surprise there.
    Penquin’s reference to the authorities at the university as dictator’s lackeys could be valid.
    But to be fair, there is a danger the government could simply close the university citing health and safety.
    In these troubled times an out of work teacher would have little chance of working on a building site with the Cambodians – they just do not have the physique for it.

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