Students vow to uphold ‘Thammasat spirit’ and defy protest ban

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The student movement confirmed on Friday that their September 19 anti-government rally will go ahead despite Thammasat University banning them from its Tha Phra Chan Campus in Bangkok. The university has long been a symbol of the fight for democracy and if protesters needed to cut chains to get in, they would do so, said Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, a representative of the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD).

Panusaya was speaking at Thammasat this morning where she laid a wreath at the statue of its founder and former prime minister Pridi Banomyong, known as the father of Thai democracy. The wreath carried the message “missing the Thammasat spirit”.

Panusaya’s speech was broadcast live to about 10,000 netizens via the UFTD Facebook page, where many posted messages of support.

Netizens also launched a petition to collect signatures calling on Thammasat to permit the rally at the campus.

The writer and national artist Suchart Sawasdsri on Friday backed plans for the protest.

“As a former student of the university, I support student activists wish to rally at the university in order to help make the founder’s dream of ‘full democracy’ come true”, he said.

Meanwhile Thammasat lecturer Anusorn Unno criticised university administrators for banning the protest, saying they had failed to mention which specific rules the rally would break.