Cops on alert for unrest at raft of rallies by students

Cops on alert for unrest at raft of rallies by students

Police are warning students organising political rallies at several universities in and outside of Bangkok to make sure they strictly comply with the public assembly law.

"Although public gatherings to make demands or to mount resistance are a democratic right, the organisers and participants are reminded that they must act within the bounds of the law," deputy national police spokesman Pol Col Kissana Phattanacharoen said.

On Tuesday evening, activities were held by students at Mahidol University, Silpakorn University's Tha Phra campus, Chiang Mai University and Maejo University, also in Chiang Mai, in the wake of the Constitutional Court's decision to disband the popular Future Forward Party (FFP) over a breach of election law.

On Wednesday, students at Walailak University in Nakhon Si Thammarat and Thammasat University's Lampang campus will follow suit.

The string of gatherings followed Saturday's event where groups of students and people joined a rally at Thammasat University.

At Chulalongkorn on Monday, students led by those from the Faculty of Arts, gathered on campus at 5pm. They took turns taking the stage speaking.

At Kasetsart University about the same time on Monday, a large group of students and people gathered to issue a statement.

In it, they complained about a loss of freedom and about injustices over the past five years, as well as the arbitrary appointments of cronies of the junta to key positions, which they described as its legacy.

Pol Col Kissana said a number of police officers, including plainclothes ones, were being deployed to rally sites to ensure the safety of the protesters and monitor their movements.

The deputy police spokesman said prior permission must be obtained to stage a rally in certain locations while acts carried out with the intent to provoke unrest are prohibited.

Opposition Pheu Thai Party secretary-general Anudit Nakhonthap said all sides, especially those in power, should pay more attention to the opinions and voices of young people.

Meanwhile, Sonthi Sawatdi, a member of ruling Palang Pracharath Party, submitted to the Election Commission a petition asking the election regulator to order former executives of the FFP to steer clear of the political activities.

"The former executives should be serving a 10-year political ban.

"Some party executives such as former party spokeswoman Pannika Wanich continue to conduct political activities in public," he said.

He was referring Ms Pannika's allegation, made in what she called an outside parliament censure debate, that the government had colluded in covering up Malaysia's multi-billion-dollar 1MDB scandal.

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