Student union defiant as Monday’s protest raises concerns of political violence

A defiant Thammasat University student union is maintaining that the views expressed during the protest rally at the university’s Rangsit campus on Monday night, including allegedly improper references to the Monarchy, are legitimate and in line with the Thai Constitution and international rules regarding political rights.

In an undated statement, the union voiced sympathy for the university’s administrators and urged them not to bow to pressure for them to take responsibility for any alleged transgressions during the protest, and to stand firm on the principles of democracy and righteousness.

The student union also vowed to stand by the student protesters.

Critics of allegedly improper references made regarding the Monarchy have demanded that Dr. Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, the Vice Rector, and Rector Mrs. Kesinee Vitoonchart, take responsibility for the incident, more than just offering a public apology, with some urging them to file a police complaint against the protest organizers.

It had been agreed by the organizers, the Khlong Luang district police and the university’s administrators, that the views, to be expressed by the protesters, must be limited to matters relating to the Constitution, the dissolution of Parliament and alleged harassment of protesters by Government officials.

Meanwhile, it is reported that the protest, scheduled to take place today (Wednesday) by the Free People movement and its allies in the Lumpini Park, has been abruptly cancelled out of concerns for the safety of the protesters.

Sources close to the protest group said that the organizers planned to livestream an address by Somsak Jeamteerasakul, a fugitive former Thammasat University lecturer who has been living in exile in France to escape lèse majesté charges in Thailand.

Senator Kanoon Sitthisamarn has proposed a special parliamentary session to discuss the current political situation to prevent, what he fears, could become a repeat of the “October 6th” student massacre in 1976.

He said that the demand of the protesters regarding the Monarchy, which was made public during the protest on Monday night, has never been expressed so openly in public in Thailand.

He added that the student activists have crossed the line “away from normal political dialogue.”

Dr. Rienthong Nanna, the pro-royalist director of Monkut Wattana Hospital, meanwhile, advised the parents of students that they should prevent them from attending the rallies, saying that the current political conflict has escalated to the point that violence could occur at any moment.

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