Thammasat 'fully backs' monarchy

Thammasat 'fully backs' monarchy

Defends students' rights to free speech

The Thammasat University Council yesterday affirmed its full support for the constitutional monarchy, but also insisted it recognised its students' rights to freedom of expression under the constitution and the law.

The statement followed an anti-government rally at the university's campus in Rangsit on Monday, in which a list of demands were made including changes concerning the royal institution.

Noranit Setabutr, president of the Thammasat University Council, said the council held an urgent meeting yesterday to discuss the student protesters and their demands.

The meeting ended with the council declaring that the university stands firm in its support for the constitutional monarchy. The council also accepted the students' rights to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the constitution and which are exercised within the law, he said.

The university management would investigate Monday's rally and divulge its findings to the public, he said, adding that it would also try to prevent any violence on its campuses.

In handling future requests for the use of venues, university administrators have pledged to be more careful when considering them, said Mr Noranit. The council agreed that the university's executives are obligated to take care of the institution's students, he said.

As for the student protest demands, the university has always given its students the freedom to speak out as long as it does not violate the constitution or the law, he said.

But for acts that take place on the university's premises which cross the line, the university will deal with them, he said. Mr Noranit said he was worried about the present situation and did not want a recurrence of violence which stemmed from similar protests in the past.

In another development, three groups yesterday lodged complaints against Monday's rally. One group led by Sonthiya Sawatdi, a former Palang Pracharath Party election candidate, lodged a complaint with Khlong Luang police in Pathum Thani seeking action against the rally organisers, who they said had breached Section 108 of the Criminal Code.

Under Section 108, actions harming the monarchy or the freedom of the monarchy carry a death sentence, said Mr Sonthiya.

He said his group did not seek action against Thammasat University, but was targeting those responsible for staging Monday's rally.

Another group calling itself Rak Phaendin Koet (Love the Motherland) filed a separate complaint with Khlong Luang police demanding charges be laid against Thammasat executives and those involved in organising the rally.

The last complaint was filed with Khon Kaen police by activist Tul Prasertsilpa against rights lawyer Arnon Nampa who spoke at the rally in a way that Mr Tul said was a violation of Mr Arnon's bail conditions in a sedition case.

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