Buddhist network cancels protests fearing violence

The Nation, June 25, 2007

Bangkok, Thailand -- The Buddhist Network of Thailand has cancelled plans to demonstrate outside Parliament on Wednesday and Thursday.

It vowed, however, to boycott the new constitution if it did not include a provision for Buddhism as the state religion.

A network leader, General Thongchai Kuasakul, said the 50,000-strong demonstration

was scrapped because of fears a "third hand" or agitators would cause trouble. But the network will continue lobbying the National Legislative Assembly to include its demand in the charter, he said.

Thongchai showed a June 11 statement from the Sangha Supreme Council which agreed that the new constitution should make Buddhism the state religion.

Three novice monks and two women yesterday joined monks on hunger strike outside Parliament.

Phra Mahabun said the monks and others joined the protest to mark 75 years since King Rama VII agreed to the abolition of absolute monarchy and the transfer of power to a constitution-based government.