Government non-committal on student demands; says trying to deescalate the situation; defends crackdown

Thailand’s military-backed government on Saturday said that it was trying to de-escalate tensions and avoid confrontations between various groups but was non-committal on demands by student protesters that they resigned by 10 pm.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri told Thai Enquirer that the Prayut Chan-ocha administration was taking steps including revoking an emergency decree to decrease tensions between various groups and avoid confrontation.

“At the moment we are trying to calm the atmosphere so that people do not confront one another,” he told Thai Enquirer by phone.

However when asked if the government was planning to address any of the three demands the pro-democracy demonstrators have made (Prayut to resign, redrafting a constitution, reforming the institution), the spokesman was non-committal only saying, “have you seen the other groups that have come out too?”

Anucha made an earlier statement on Saturday which said “that the government has heard the concerns of the protesters, and it is now time to come together and consider how to move forward.”

“Although the ongoing political situation comprises many opposing views among different groups, we should rather take this as an opportunity for Thais to consult each other on what is best for the nation.”

Defending the crackdown

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has this week defended a government crackdown on student protesters which saw water cannons and riot shields being deployed against unarmed demonstrators.

The MFA said that the government respected its obligations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and also to the rights of protesters to demonstrate but that it must also balance the demand of the protesters with “the silent majority.”

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