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Up to 10,000 gather in massive Bangkok pro-democracy rally

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Up to 10,000 gather in massive Bangkok pro-democracy rally | Thaiger

Special guest writer Will Langston

Up to 10,000 pro-democracy supporters attended a rally at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument yesterday. The crowds started swelling from around 3pm. Prior to the event, one of the organising groups, Free Youth, promoted the rally via their massive Facebook page following of over 350,000 followers. While the demographic of the crowd mainly consisted of high school and college students, participants of all age groups were present in the large gathering. The Student Union of Thailand was also involved with organisation of the event.

The 5,000 number is an unofficial estimate. Some of the protesters have claimed the attendance was closer to 10,000.

Droves of participants began arriving, dressed in black and sporting masks, protest signs and political props. Over 300 police officers floated in and around the fenced in monument, both protecting and monitoring the event. All traffic surrounding the monument was closed and people filled the streets as far as the eye could see.

Smaller pro-royalist groups remained on the outskirts and only a few small verbal disagreements broke out between the competition interests. No violence or scuffles were reported during the event. Just the day before the Thai PM had urged police not to use any violence against the protesters.

Sunday’s rally was well organised and played out more like a variety show… an assortment of music, performances and speeches took place under the distinguished national monument. Comedians, rappers, theater performers and spoken word acts took turns energising the crowd. While the event was focused on government change, other groups joined in, too. Voices from the Thai LGBT community, feminist groups and sex-worker rights groups all shared the stage. Protests signs calling for change of all sorts dotted the sea of people.

Most attendees sat on the ground throughout the event and the event had a happy vibe despite the profound changes they were demanding. Periodically the crowd would raise to their feet for a song or chant. Pop culture themes such as Harry Potter, Hunger Games and Stars Wars could be seen on shirts, signs and in song. The use of pop culture icons is part of the protesters being able to make their political points without direct reference to particular people or institutions, some of them particularly sensitive issues and cultural ‘no go’ zones.

The event grew to complete gridlock as the sun set. The mass of people’s phones illuminated the streets as they waved them in the air during softer songs. Drones could be seen soaring above the gathering, mostly capturing the event for future publicity.

Just after 10pm, recently jailed and bailed lawyer Anon Nampa took to the stage. For 10 minutes he spoke on democracy and the power of change. His words motivated the crowd and by the end of his speech the cheers had become overwhelming.

The rally continued until around 11pm. White cardboard birds attached to sticks could be seen flapping above the crowd. After the song finished the immense crowd slowly dispersed.

You can find more information about the Free Youth organisation HERE.

Up to 10,000 gather in massive Bangkok pro-democracy rally | News by Thaiger Up to 10,000 gather in massive Bangkok pro-democracy rally | News by Thaiger Up to 10,000 gather in massive Bangkok pro-democracy rally | News by Thaiger Up to 10,000 gather in massive Bangkok pro-democracy rally | News by Thaiger Up to 10,000 gather in massive Bangkok pro-democracy rally | News by Thaiger Up to 10,000 gather in massive Bangkok pro-democracy rally | News by Thaiger Up to 10,000 gather in massive Bangkok pro-democracy rally | News by Thaiger

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Monday, August 17, 2020 at 10:45 am

    5000, now that is more like an effective protest, and feminists as well.
    Put them at the front they can shout the loudest.
    Punish the police! deafen them!!

    • Avatar

      Rinky Stingpiece

      Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 1:08 am

      Yeah… a tiny “rally”, and hijacked by left-wing minority interests… hardly the winds of change.

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Protests

Attendance on the wane for Thai democracy protests

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Attendance on the wane for Thai democracy protests | Thaiger
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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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

VIP clubs may be spreading Covid-19 from rich to poor

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VIP clubs may be spreading Covid-19 from rich to poor | Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook - Krystal Bar in Thong Lor was the site of a Covid-19 Outbreak

A third Covid-19 wave surging through Thailand is spreading through entertainment centres, including high-end VIP clubs rumoured to be popular with elite government officials. 559 Covid-19 infections and 1 death were reported today and the outbreak, which began in bars and clubs in the Thong Lor area of Bangkok among other nightlife hotspots, is surging, reaching 20 provinces throughout Thailand. Outbreaks in Chon Buri, Pattaya, and Phuket have also been linked directly to evening entertainment venues, such as the dance music festival in Phuket last weekend that resulted in 10 infections. Now, evidence is emerging that the wave is spreading through Bangkok’s wealthy elite and government officials.

In Phuket, where 70% vaccination of residents has been a primary focus in order to re-open to desperately needed tourism, the new outbreak has brought bar closures and new restrictions. And it looks like Songkran celebrations across the country will be muted, if not cancelled.

With nightlife and hospitality workers being disproportionately affected by the third wave of Covid-19, many are airing their frustrations with the VIP elite class contributing to the outbreak, including a trending hashtag #CovidThonglor. Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob was one of the first cabinet members to test positive for Covid-19, amid rumours that he had recently attended or been in proximity with someone who attended Krystal Club, an upscale entertainment business. Though he denies being there, the club is allegedly so popular among politicians and officials that it is often referred to by the nickname “Government House 2”. Nearly a third of cabinet ministers are now self-isolating for fear of Covid-19 exposure.

With 200,000 baht minimum spending limits, it’s a high-society hotspot that may be spreading Covid-19 from the rich VIP customers to the poor staff and everyone they come in contact with. Calls for government officials and other elites who attended VIP clubs like this to disclose their potentially embarrassing timelines have so far been mostly unheeded.

In Bangkok, hospitals and private medical facilities have been warning of a shortage of testing kits and Covid-ready hospital beds. Field hospitals have been erected to prepare as the outbreak expands with surging cases. Experts think the new outbreak may be contained in a month or two, but fear in Bangkok it may take much longer to recover.

SOURCE: SCMP

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