By Pratch Rujivanarom
Akekachai Isaratha, a People Go Network representative, on Thursday met with university officials to ask permission to stage an academic seminar on the topic “The Constitution and the public participation in its development”.
After the university declined their request, the group expressed disappointment in what they charge is a lack of academic freedom in the university and said they would ask the Khon Kaen provincial governor to find another place to arrange the activity.
This seminar is to be the final activity of the group’s 450-kilometre “We Walk” march from its January 17 kickoff at Thammasat University in Pathum Thani to its expected February 17 conclusion in Khon Kaen. Organisers intended the march to draw attention to the issues of state welfare, food security, natural resources management, human rights and democracy.
Akekachai said the group found it very difficult to understand the university’s argument that they have to get permission from Military Circle 23 before allowing the marchers to arrange an academic seminar inside the university. The university is a public space and should always be open to expressions of academic freedom, he said.
“We hope that the university will respect academic freedom and the freedom of expression of citizens,” said Akekachai. “Moreover, we all have the right to peacefully stage a demonstration, as it is guaranteed by the Constitution.
“As Khon Kaen University did not allow us to use their space, we are going to ask the Khon Kaen provincial governor to find another venue for us to arrange the academic seminar.”
We Walk marchers said they would walk for 11 kilometres on Thursday as they had entered the final phase of their march to Khon Kaen.