Uthenthawai University protest begins
Students and alumni of the Rajamangala University of Technology Tawan-ok Uthenthawai campus began a big rally Friday morning in protest at Chulalongkorn’s determination to take back the 21-rai site the campus occupies for a development project.
- Published: 15/03/2013 at 12:12 PM
- Newspaper section: news
A student protester stands atop a car driving on Phaya Thai Road holding aloft a placard saying "Benefit? Uthenthawai fight". Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasil
The students and alumni start gathering at the campus on Phaya Thai Road around 9am, but some of them had arrived last night for the protest.
Around 500 police were deployed to control the demonstration. Cars entering the campus were checked by the police to ensure no weapons were carried into the protest ground.
Traffic in the area around Phaya Thai, Rama I and Rama IV roads was not congested in the morning. Police had been advised of the protest and motorists advised to divert and instead use Bantadthong and Henry-Dunant roads.
It was expected about 4,000 people would turn up for the rally. Chulalongkorn students were warned not to dress or carry items that signalled they are members of the university.
The protesters planned to parade on Phaya Thai Road to Chamchuri Square and Siam Square and MBK Centre in the afternoon.
Around 100 current students travelled in two buses to submit a letter opposing the reclaiming of the land by Chulalongkorn to Education Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana.
Chulalongkorn University, which owns the land, wants to take back the Uthenthawai campus site to build a creative community-based innovation centre as part of a 4.6 billion baht property development scheme.
On March 4, Uthenthawai's board met with Education Ministry officials to ask for a budget to relocate the campus to a 36-rai site in Bang Ping in Muang district in Samut Prakan owned by the Treasury Department.
Without the funding and the relocation, they indicated Uthenthawai was unlikely to return the campus site to Chulalongkorn.
The lease between the university and Uthenthawai began in 1935 and ended in 2003. The university has been asking for the return of the land since 1975.
In 2004, Uthenthawai signed an agreement to relocate and to give the land back to the university by 2005, with an extension of not more than one year. The university sent three letters requesting the 21-rai site be returned for redevelopment - in December 2006, February 2007 and July 2007.
An Uthenthawai protester is searched by the police. Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasil
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- Writer: Online Reporters