Despite resistance from universities, student protests go on

Countrywide student protests have reached even greater heights despite interference from the state and university authorities. Anger and dissatisfaction directly confront the power structure created by 2014 junta, and university authorities.

The protest at Mahasarakham University on 22 July.

On 22 July, there were at least 4 student protests in Maha Sarakham, Chonburi, Phrae and Songkhla provinces. 

Matichon reported that at least 2,000 protesters assembled on the Mahasarakham University Octagon Field, more than previous protests at the beginning of this year. Speakers criticized the government, social injustice and the negative attitude of the university toward the students.

The protesters made 4 demands: 1) the government must dissolve parliament; 2) all 250 senators must resign to end the influence of the junta which appointed them; 3) a new election under the 1997 constitution which is fairer to the people; and 4) a new constitution that truly belongs to the people.

The university President at first approved of the student gathering but then vetoed it later. The university claimed that they were concerned about the risk of Covid-19 infection. This turnaround caused dissatisfaction among the protesters. They then declared that the protest was both anti-government and anti-university.

Protesters at Maha Sarakham raised a 3 finger gesture, an anti-government gesture.

The university also did not turn on the lights on the field for the protest despite repeated calls from protesters and organizers. The protest went on and concluded peacefully in the dark.

The Nation reported that the protest at Phrae was joined by about 200 people. The organizer, the Phrae Democracy-loving Network, declared 4 demands: 1) withdrawal of the Emergency Decree; 2) return power to the people by dissolving parliament; 3) an end to harassment of the people by state authorities; and 4) a more democratic constitution.

Thanawat Wongchai, a lead organizer of the ‘Run Against Dictatorship’, a large-scale quasi-protest in February 2020, posted on Facebook that the flash mobs on 20 July are like a “flash fire” that is emerging to challenge Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha’s legitimacy. The people must fight their way together to reach the finishing line.

On the same day, Niwat Keawpradub, President of Prince of Songkla University, refused to allow students to use university facilities for protests on any campus. Prince of Songkla University has campuses in Pattani, Phuket, Surat Thani, Trang and Songkhla provinces. His published letter refers to concern of the risk of Covid-19 contagion and the Emergency Decree.

The students responded that they will organize a protest at the Pattani campus on 23 July anyway. They also declared that it will be an anti-government and anti-president protest.

These latest protests follow the wave of anti-government protests springing up across the country since the mass protest on Saturday (18 July), which was the largest protest since the government declared a State of Emergency in March. 

At least 24 other rallies are planned in different provinces in the coming weeks.

Source: 
prachatai.com/journal/2020/07/88702