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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

University Ban Did Not Stop Students From Exercising Their Political Rights

Chulalongkorn University students continue to protest defying the ban and downpour.

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Chatwan Mongkol
Chatwan Mongkol
A freelance journalist based in Bangkok, Thailand covering Thai politics

THAILAND. Bangkok. Despite the inclement weather and the ban from Chulalongkorn University (CU), students led the public on 14 Aug to protest against the government, to call for an end of state harassment on dissidents, to call out the university for not supporting its students, and to call out the media for not reporting what is happening.

A 21-year-old CU Faculty of Arts student, Champ Nutchanon, told Transcontinental Times that he felt the need of coming out when he knew of the ban.

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“When you said no to us, you were lighting a torch of dissatisfaction,” Nutchanon said. “The more unreasonable reasons you used, the more we needed to come out to express [our dissatisfaction].”

Another placard that appeared at the demonstration. Image Credit: Chatwan Mongkol

Following the protest at Thammasat University on 10 Aug, Chaiyaporn Puprasert, CU vice president for student development, said students have the right to express their political opinions, and the university is not banning on-campus demonstrations. Puprasert also assured that the university and its professors are ready to help in case of students facing an arrest.

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However, four hours prior to the on-campus event, CU backed out on its support and asked the people to avoid attending the event citing that the organizers asked for permission in very short notice, in which the university did not have enough time to facilitate the event.

The statement from CU student affairs also stated that if the event was appeared to happen, the university will take disciplinary action against the organizers.

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Nutchanon told Transcontinental Times that he was confused with the university’s decision to ban because he believes a duty of a university is to support its students, including providing facilitation for political events. 

“If the university says no to and ignores its duty, I can’t think of anything except that the university is abandoning its students,” Nutchanon said.

Hours after the ban from CU, 18 CU laws professors issued a statement opposing the ban.

“University should be a free space that supports thought and verbal expressions, which are the root of the advancement of all subjects,” the statement read.

Protest’s goals

This protest also echoed the three demands from Free Youth — the dissolution of the parliament, an end to state harassment on dissidents, and a more democratic constitution.

Protest leaders encouraged people to attend the big protest on Sunday 16 Aug by Free People and its networks at the Democracy Monument.


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