Student unions criticise charter court ruling

Student unions criticise charter court ruling

Statement says case against Move Forward Party opens door to more ‘unfair political litigation’

Student unions criticise charter court ruling
A T-shirt with a pointed message is worn by a participant in a ceremony at the Oct 6 memorial on the Tha Prachan campus of Thammasat University, commemorating the victims of the 1976 massacre of student protesters, on Oct 6, 2017. (Photo: Patipat Janthong)

The student unions of nine universities have released a joint statement expressing concern about the Constitutional Court ruling against the Move Forward Party on Wednesday.

The ruling could be used to pursue “unfair political litigation against political opponents” or even result in the dissolution of a political party, said the statement released on Thursday.

As a result, it said, the ruling promotes a “distorted standard for Thai political society”.

The statement was a response to the court’s ruling that Move Forward’s advocacy for amendments to Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese-majeste law, amounted to an attempt to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.

The main opposition party now faces the threat of dissolution, and 44 of its MPs could face trial for ethical violations, with two petitions already lodged with the Election Commission.

The statement was signed by representatives from the student unions of Thammasat University, Chulalongkorn University, Khon Kaen University, Kasetsart University, Chiang Mai University, Walailak University, Naresuan University, Burapha University and Srinakharinwirot University.

Citizens are entitled to establish constitutions, laws or regulations that can be modified or revoked according to the social context, the statement said.

Other commentators have said that the court’s interpretation of what can and cannot be said in public about Section 112 could close off political space and deter people from debating important issues.

The student unions said it had long been clear that Section 112 had been “abused as a political weapon”. The court itself could be seen as politicised, it added.

“Once again, the ruling of the Constitutional Court on this aspect, when the judiciary should be promoting the fundamental rights and freedom of people, has become a gross neglect of duty and continuous interference in the Thai political system since the 2006 coup d’etat.”

The statement concluded with an appeal to the authorities to live up to people’s expectations, adding: “You can cut down all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.”