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Attendance on the wane for Thai democracy protests

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Demonstration attendance has been falling in the face of Covid-19, coups and crackdowns.

While protesters against the Thai government are continuing as they have for endless months, attendance is lessening in the face of crackdowns, coups and Covid-19. The throngs of 10,000 plus protesters, mostly energetic youth, that waved The Hunger Games 3 finger salute and demanded change in Thailand last summer have thinned to a few thousand or less these days.

The government isn’t in the clear yet though, as the protester’s calls to replace the current government, lessen the power of the Thai monarchy, and draw up a new constitution are still popular ideas. But a number of factors are causing protester size and vigour to wane.

The second wave of Covid in December quickly curbed the daily demonstrations for fear of spreading the virus. After that, the coup in Myanmar on February 1 has brought massive protests with international attention shifting to the growing humanitarian crisis just across the border. On top of the pandemic and the Burmese coup, the Thai government has taken a much more hardline approach to protesters in recent months.

Police began fighting back against mass demonstrations, dispersing crowds with water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets. And after 2 years of leniency, the government has begun prosecuting people under the strict lèse-majesté laws, where offending the monarchy can carry harsh punishment including a jail sentence of up to 15 years.

Anon Nampa, a human-rights lawyer, and Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, a student activist, have already been arrested under this law and held without bail. Arrests like these have been demoralising for the pro-democracy movement, and have scared away a lot of Thai protesters. Many have shifted focus to more immediate efforts to demand the release of the detained protest leaders.

Even with the crowds shrinking, the protests have already brought about change, bringing once unspeakable conversations into the national conversation, and keeping pressure on Thailand’s leaders. Opposition is growing, with efforts to push no-confidence votes and amendments to the constitution being constantly proposed and advocated.

SOURCE: The Economist

 

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Stan

    Saturday, April 10, 2021 at 3:10 am

    Is English your first language?

  2. Avatar

    Stan

    Saturday, April 10, 2021 at 3:15 am

    I’m just catching up on the “Olds” as I always do when I happen upon this site. I suggest that if anyone else wants to read “News” look elsewhere.

  3. Avatar

    Slugger

    Saturday, April 10, 2021 at 10:41 am

    ‘have thinned to a few thousand or less these days.’

    ‘Opposition is growing,’

    How? When the protests are a few hundred at best these days?

  4. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Saturday, April 10, 2021 at 11:27 am

    The way they are protesting will not achieve change. They have to be more militant.

  5. Avatar

    Alfedic

    Saturday, April 10, 2021 at 12:06 pm

    Anon Nampa, a human rights lawyer funded by the US National Endowment for Democracy, and Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, the agent who before participating in the color revolution made numerous visits to the US embassy in Thailand, are in prison.

    In other countries, when agents of destabilization manipulated by outside powers are arrested, they are often shot.

    Fortunately for them, Thailand is not Myanmar, and in the latter country there is a real battle for democracy.

    Not a movement manipulated by foreign forces to take control of the country, to end Thailand’s independence.

    The same foreign powers that shortly before attacked Aung San Suu Kyi via the Rohingya because she had signed contracts with China.

    What is sad is that the protesters in Myanmar have taken the tools of Thai/US propaganda, like the three-finger salute from the bad movie Hunger Game.

    The opponents in Thailand are attacking the government for getting too close to China.

    Just as the Burmese generals explained that they did the coup because Ang San Suu Kyi got too close to China.

    It is better to have an independent country that maintains a balance with foreign powers than a country in the hands of one of those powers.

    With all the examples of countries that have been destroyed by the US, with the catastrophic situation of the EU which is in the hands of the US, we can only worry about the malicious operations they are doing in Thailand by manipulating young Thai people who have no knowledge of geopolitics and who are misinformed by the mainstream media and social networks

  6. Avatar

    sam

    Sunday, April 11, 2021 at 1:50 am

    “3 Fingers Salute” protestors are leading nowhere,since the Future Forward Party had been dissolved and Thanathorn can only bark from outside the parliament,after he was disqualified as an MP.Changes can only be made in parliament and it all up to the opposition parties,who unfortunately are bickering among themselves.

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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