PATTANI: More than 50 local people staged a protest Monday against Prince of Songkla University's Pattani campus after a youth group, consisting of its students, issued a statement decrying last week's invocation of martial law in two tambons of Pattani's Nong Chik district.
The 4th Army Region on Sept 17 invoked martial law to declare tambons Bang Khao and Tha Kam Sa as a special control zone, with all firearms and vehicles having to be registered with the military.
The move came after two rangers were killed and four others wounded when they were ambushed in Ban Bang Tan of tambon Bang Khao on Sept 11.
On Sept 19, the youth group, called the Federation of Patani Students and Youth, or Permas, issued a statement opposing the decision, saying it had caused trouble for the locals as they were unable to live a normal life.
The group also stated the announcement ran afoul of the constitution and human rights principles and claimed that some people had been threatened and intimidated by soldiers.
They have sent an open letter complaining about the matter to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and 4th Army commander, Lt Gen Piyawat Nakwanich.
But on Monday, a group of residents claiming to represent "Local Thai people who love peace" held a demonstration to oppose Permas' actions.
One of the demonstrators, Pongpan Janlek, said his group agreed with the enforcement of martial law until the perpetrators are apprehended.
The university should not have allowed its students to hold an activity that caused social division, he said.
The enforcement of the law had not deprived people of their rights, Mr Pongpan said, adding those who fail to respect the law should be treated as rebels.
He said his group also wants the university to clarify why it let Permas issue such a statement.
Mr Pongpan called on the government to continue enforcing the special law and only ease it when the situation returns to normalcy.
The group submitted their petition to the university's rector via Montira Leelakriangsak, the deputy rector.
Ms Montira said university executives would discuss the issue.