Thailand has been rung by a new wave of protests which took over the nation in June. Now, the student led protests has become something inevitable for the military leadership of the country. It is the biggest pro-democracy protest in the country since the coup of 2014.The centre of the protest is Bangkok’s Democracy monument. It is regularly donned by thousands of people in black shirts and masks, chanting pro-democracy slogans.
Thailand has had a long history of political unrest especially after abolishment of absolute monarchy in 1932. However, the unrest has taken a new direction now as the youth of the country has come to streets with demands of establishing a fair democracy in the country.
What are the demands of Thai protestors?
The students’ groups have formed a coalition named Free Youth to mobilize people in the country. The social media apps like Twitter are being wisely used by protestors to gather people. It has three major demands which are
- Dissolving the parliament,
- Begin the framing of a new constitution, and
- Stop the harassment of dissenting voices in the nation.
Among other problems the expression of free voice and dissent are very dangerous in the country. As per a lese majeste law anyone who is found insulting the royalty or speaking against them, can be jailed for 15 years.
The protests began earlier, but were subsided because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Though, the situation seems grim now, as the protests have again popped up despite the corona virus emergency imposed in the country. Violation of rules of emergency can lead to up to 2 years in jail.
The reasons for Thailand protests
The political crisis in Thailand has always been there. The country has seen coups every six years on an average. Though, the condition worsened in 2014. After another coup in 2014, Prayut Chan-o-cha became Prime Minister. There were already demands of fundamental changes in the country’s constitution, which got grimmer as Chan-o-cha increased the restrictions on free voice.
The situation got worse when a pro-democracy activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit disappeared in June. Earlier also some activists living in exile have been picked up. In 2018, bodies of two such activists were found in Mekong River. In March 2019, the pro-democratic party Free Future Party was dissolved after getting the third largest vote share.
Though, the current crisis is rooted two ways. Apart from the political crisis, the economic uncertainty and recession has charged people to raise their voices. The corona virus induced recession has brought the booming tourism industry of the country to a standstill. The bleak future of the people and increasing restrictions on raising voices has brought the country to its worst protests ever. A stricter action is feared to induce violent backlash as well.
Innovative Thailand Protests
While the protests in Bangkok are highly influenced by the Hong Kong protests, there are innovative ways being brought every day. The protestors can be seen chanting spells from Harry Potter franchise as well as using anime characters as a symbol of protest. They have even used the three finger salute from ‘Hunger Games’ franchise. Since 2014, the anti establishment rap songs have also become a way of protesting.