Thailand anti-government protests explained
Most of the protesters are young people and the protests have largely been leader- less much like the Hong- Kong protests. Some groups like Free Youth Movement, the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, Bad Student movement of highschoolers have been actively participating in the protests.Updated: Oct 21, 2020, 18:51 IST
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the world has been witnessing anti- government protests in Thailand for the past few months. Among other things, the protesters have been demanding reforms to the monarchy and the resignation of Thailand’s PM Prayuth Chan- ocha.
Who are the protesters?
Most of the protesters are young people and the protests have largely been leader- less much like the Hong- Kong protests. Some groups like Free Youth Movement, the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration, Bad Student movement of highschoolers have been actively participating in the protests. The symbols used by the protesters are the “anti-coup” three-finger salute from The Hunger Games series, and gestures like hands crossed over the chest, and hands pointing above the head.
Why are they protesting?
The protests began last year after the disqualification of opposition politician Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit as a Member of Parliament after which a ban was put in place on his party Future Forward. The party was largely supported by the youth of Thailand. The pandemic halted the protests but they resumed again in July. Protesters are demanding the dissolution of parliament, PM’s resignation, constitutional changes to curb the power of the monarchy and an end to harassment of critics and dissenters.
Why are the protesters angry with the King and the PM?
The current ruler, Maha Vajiralongkorn, became king in December 2016. Prime Minister Chan-ocha came to power through a coup in 2014 that is said to be endorsed by the king. Protesters are also angry with the king as he spends most of his time in Europe and in 2017 increased his constitutional powers. A scrapping of the strict lese majeste law that protects the monarchy from any criticism is also being demanded by the protesters.
What has been the government’s response to the protests?
The government has continuously stymied the protests by using water cannons, banning gatherings of five or more people in Bangkok, banning publication of information about the protests and even blocking access to some websites. The government has also arrested several demonstrators but the protesters have only increased in numbers, thus creating a lot of pressure on the government and also on the monarchy.