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Protests in Thailand Challenge Suppression of Democracy

Protest in Thailand, Global Youth Voice, gyv

Army Chief -turned Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha runs Thailand’s government. He declared a state of emergency on 15th October 2020. The emergency prohibited public gatherings and censors the media. This was a way to tackle the rising protests in Thailand by students. The protesters sacked the verdict of an emergency. Protestors did so as it was another step by the government to curb their rights. Moreover, there is a continued continue worry about the crisis that has disturbed the country’s political and royal establishments.

Protest in Thailand, Global Youth Voice, gyv
Prayuth Chan-ocha: Prime Minister of Thailand

How did the protest in Thailand start?

All this dates back to the year 2014 when Prayuth came to power. Under his regime, he has held on to tyranny and increased restriction on the public. Many activists fled from the country and some went missing. Songs with Thai values were ordered to be sung by students. Further, in the year 2017, the military introduced a new constitution. It allowed 250- members selected by the military to select the Prime Minister. Last year, after a delayed and disputed election Prayuth came back to power. It was the first chance to vote for many young people after 2014.

Expected Change, Different Reality

A change was expected after shift to military rule. In February, the top court’s decision to dissolve the pro-democracy Future Forward Party (FFP), which gained the third largest vote share in the Parliamentary election, activated rallies. FFD, led by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit was popular among youngsters. A break in the protests was seen due to the pandemic again which resumed in June. From July, students came on the streets to target the government as well as the suppressing Monarchy. Wanchalearm Satsaksit, who had been living in Cambodia in exile since 2014, reportedly grabbed off the street and bundled off into a vehicle.

The Protest in Thailand against arrested activists

The protesters peacefully cheered, eventually scattering several hours after 6 pm curfew during protest in Thailand. They asked to release at least 20 activists arrested on 15th October 2020. On the protest’s morning, the government had attempted to curtail the student-led protest movement by issuing an emergency decree banning gatherings of more than four people and arresting about 20 activists – taking the total number of arrests this week to about 40 as per the BBC news online portal

 The Three Finger symbol during Protest in Thailand

A three-finger salute was made as a symbol of the protest movement. After peacefully leaving the site of the demonstration at Bangkok’s Ratchaprasong Intersection, the protesters vowed to return on Friday at 17:00 local time (10:00 GMT). The king, who spends his time abroad has returned from Germany. Protesters challenged the King’s decision to declare crown wealth as his personal property. It was till now theoretically held in trust for the benefit of the people. Even the king has taken over the military command units in Bangkok.

Students’ demands and the story behind

Anon Nampa, a 35-year-old human rights lawyer and one of the leaders of the protester’s in August, called for reforms to the monarchy. Students submitted a list of 10 demands. They asked to separate King’s assets and crown property. Furthermore, they wanted to abolish the king’s interference in political views, remove the share of the palace from the budget of the nation, and prevent the King from further coups. The extraordinary step gave the criticism that the monarchy could be punished up to 15-years jail in Thailand. The students have also called for the Prime Minister’s resignation, a new Constitution, fresh, free and fair elections, and an end to attacks on dissents and opposition parties such as the Future Forward Party.

Pop culture in the protest

In August, thousands hit the streets dressed in Harry Potter-style wizard costumes, holding up chopstick-wands. Instead of slogans, they casted spells against “Death Eaters” of the establishment. They wanted both “the muggles and the wizards” to come together against the dark powers. Solidarity of the movement against the dystopian dictatorship of President Snow in The Hunger Games trilogy was borrowed by the Thai protesters. On October 14, they raised the three-finger salute to a royal motorcade that carried Queen Suthida. A day after, the emergency decree was issued as per The Hindu online news portal.

Government’s take on the matter

According to the Hindu, the government says it won’t use force against the peaceful protesters during protest in Thailand. But it has also warned them against “insulting” the monarchy. The authorities have not shown any willingness to fulfill the demands of the protesters. Now, the emergency gives government more power to challenge the opposition. The police have already arrested some protest leaders during protest in Thailand. With the students refusing to stand down, Thailand could be moving to another showdown

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