Thousands rally at Kasetsart University against government, warn bigger protests coming to Bangkok

Thousands of students and people attend a political rally at Kasetsart University (Thailand) on Saturday, demanding a rewriting of the Constitution and promising more protests to make their case. Photo: The Nation. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BANGKOK, Mar 1, 2020, The Nation. Pro-democracy protests are gaining momentum as thousands of students turned out for a rally on Saturday evening, one of the largest since the military toppled the civilian government in a coup in 2014. Thousands of students and people joined the political protests at Kasetsart University, which ended at around 8pm, The Nation reported.

They called it a rehearsal for a bigger rally later in Bangkok to oust the government and they will organise protests again next week.The student leader representing Kasetsart University said the gathering was the most significant event since the October 14, 1973 uprising against the then-dictatorship government and later key events.

It was also the first gathering in which several university students took part after individual protests organised by some other universities and high schools in the last few days. The students described their move as the last straw following the court ruling to dissolve the Future Forward Party on February 21.

A middle-aged man who joined the protest told The Nation that the students were fighting for their own cause — of restoring democracy. He did not believe that they were being manipulated by opposition politicians.

The students insisted that they could no longer tolerate injustice and argued that law enforcement and courts applied double standards when it came to legal disputes related to political activities. They also demanded a rewriting of the new Constitution.

The student leaders said there was no fairness in the drafting of the charter or the referendum that approved the 2017 Constitution. They also said the general election held in March was rigged.The dissolution of the Future Forward Party by the Constitutional Court last week became the trigger for their outrage.

The FWP was the third largest political party in Parliament, winning over six million votes in the March election. Its executives will be banned from running in any election for 10 years while the remaining MPs have to seek refuge in other political parties.

The dissolution of the FWP has drawn sharp criticism from local and international communities. The United States, the European Union and Canada raised concerns that the dissolution of the party could effectively disenfranchise the over six million voters.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha dismissed the protests against his rule as a young generation driven by impulse. Other government backers are also toeing Prayut’s line, saying the students are probably manipulated by opposition politicians.

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