The authorities used martial law to remove student banners protesting against the Mae Wong Dam and threatened students with arrest to force them to cancel a rally.
Police officers on Tuesday afternoon intervened and ordered the cancellation of a rally against the conduct of the Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) of the construction of the Mae Wong Dam, organized by students from Kasetsart University in Bang Khen, in the north of Bangkok, while threatening the students with arrest, according to Matichon.
The Mae Wong Dam is a controversial embankment project on the Sakae Krang River in the central province of Nakhon Sawan, designed to control monsoon flooding in central Thailand. The 13 billion baht (about 400 million USD) project has encountered strong resistance since it was proposed in 2012 because the dam will flood approximately 5,100 acres of Mae Wong National Park.
Police officers temporarily detain students planning to stage a rally against the construction of the Mae Wong Dam on 18 November 2014 at Kasetsart University, Bangkok. (photo courtesy of Abhisit Sapnaphapan)
Despite the intimidation from the police at the protest, the students were determined to continue with the rally, pointing out that it was not related to politics, but the environment.
While the rally was halted and surrounded by the police, the student repeatedly shouted, “We want alternatives to manage the water....no to the Mae Wong Dam.”
After an hour-long negotiation between university instructors, the police, and students, the students decided to call off the rally, but continued the protest on campus.
On October 2013, a protest against the dam was held with the participation of a large crowd of students, environmental NGOs and activists. However, on Tuesday afternoon, students reported that many police officers came to monitor the protests and asked them to cancel the rally when it was still on campus because of martial law.