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Anti-government protest rally attracts massive crowd, continues today

The Thaiger

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Anti-government protest rally attracts massive crowd, continues today | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World
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And there it was, in full sight of the Grand Palace and shouted out across the royal parade grounds of Sanam Luang, a call to reform Thailand’s monarchy and the powers of the monarch.

The protests, which started yesterday in the grounds of Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan Campus, will continue today with a number of symbolic gestures to claim a new era of democracy and reform in Thailand, beset for almost a century with a cycle of military coups, calls for reform, new constitutions and elections – 13 in fact.

Around 25 – 30,000 people – the protesters enthusiastically claimed there were 50,000 – gathered around the university grounds to demand the most recent coup leader, and now Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-ocha to stand down and dissolve the parliament. Given the poor weather around Bangkok yesterday, the government may be thankful the weather wasn’t better, which would surely have attracted even more to the rally.

The rally, which started in drizzling wet-season rain, also attracted some familiar veterans from the “red-shirt” United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, a pro-Thaksin political group. Although many of them are based in Thailand’s north east, they came to Bangkok to throw their support behind the student movement and the renewed calls for political reform.

One of the protest leaders, and human rights lawyer, Arnon Nampa, announced last night declared “the country belongs to the people, not the monarchy”.

“Today, the 2020 People’s Party has officially been formed at this people’s field”, he said according to Bangkok Post.

This morning the group embedded a symbolic brass plaque, using statements from the 1932 “Siam Revolution” that ended absolute monarchy and introduced a constitutional democracy. The original brass plaque, embedded in the Royal Plaza leading up to Government House, was removed mysteriously in 2017. No one from the government was able to explain what happened to it or where it ended up.

Anti-government protest rally attracts massive crowd, continues today | News by The ThaigerAnti-government protest rally attracts massive crowd, continues today | News by The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Thai PBS World

The protests, which started in the middle of July have broken a cultural taboo by commenting openly, even criticising, the Thai monarchy. This round of demonstrations is palpably different as it is grass roots, mostly younger, Thais, instead of aggrieved politicians.

Hi Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn is understood to not be in Thailand at this time and the Palace made no official comment about the protests or the content of the protesters’ demands.

No matter is there were 50,000 attendees, or just 18,000, as claimed by government security officials, it’s still the largest gathering of protesters since the May 2014 you when ‘Uncle Tu’ (Prayut) seized power and then ‘managed’ the March 2019 general election to install a pro-military and pro-monarchy coalition government, and himself as the country’s prime minister.

Protesters are marching to Government House this morning to continue to protest after many camped out overnight. Another of the prominent protest organisers, Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, says today’s march would feature a “big surprise”.

Speakers at the protest criticised the king for his absence and for his personal behaviour, comments that until recently would not have been made in public. Some of the speeches were directly aimed at Thailand’s Head of State, comments that would have been unthinkable even a year ago.

Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, according to Reuters, spoke to crowd late last night.

“The people want a king who protects democracy, not one who betrays the people’s democracy.”

The setting of the yesterday’s date wasn’t by chance. It was the anniversary of another military coup against the populist elected prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra back in 2006. Although 2 decades of red-shirt/yellow shirt political protests has been mostly left out of this year’s round of protests, there were plenty of red-shirt (pro-Thaksin) protesters who turned up to give the students their support.

Up to now the protests have continued being mostly peaceful, if not occasionally boisterous, affair. But around 15 protest leaders have been identified and detained, then released, over their breaking of laws, mostly to do with the current ’emergency decree’ to curb the spread of Covid-19. None have been charged with the country’s draconian lese majeste laws which forbid criticism of the monarch or royal family.

Anti-government protest rally attracts massive crowd, continues today | News by The Thaiger

SOURCES: Thai PBS, Bangkok Post, BBC

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Jeff

    September 20, 2020 at 9:24 am

    Unelected persons, appointed or otherwise should have no authority to legislate. Simple

  2. Avatar

    Gosport

    September 20, 2020 at 9:47 am

    Selling power bank or umbrella can make oneself financially survive the pandemic during the period.

  3. Avatar

    chris Burf

    September 20, 2020 at 9:57 am

    This was a brave report.

    Thank you. I hope mass arrests or bloodshed is avoided (heaven forbid).

  4. Avatar

    steen thomsen

    September 20, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    Monarkiet skal opløses og pengene 200 milliarder skal overvejende bruges på det fattige Isaan, så det kommer op på niveau med resten af Thailand.

  5. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    September 21, 2020 at 10:54 pm

    There either topple the government or become slaves, and live in poverty.

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Bangkok

Royalists rally at US Embassy, call on Americans to stop “interfering” with Thai politics

Caitlin Ashworth

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Royalists rally at US Embassy, call on Americans to stop “interfering” with Thai politics | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Twitter: @justin_th_th

Royalists gathered this morning at the United States Embassy in Bangkok and called on Americans to stop a so-called “hybrid war,” implying that the US government is interfering with Thailand politics during a time of ongoing pro-democracy protests.

Dressed in yellow, the colour symbolising the Thai Monarch, the protesters held signs calling on an end to an alleged hybrid war. Some waved the Thailand national flag and some held up photos of the Royal family. One sign read “Stop hybrid war. Please return peace to the world.”

A large sign was directed at Ambassador Michael George DeSombre, who also served on the board Hong Kong forum which, according to the US government, “seeks to promote the exchange of ideas between scholars and policymakers worldwide and to foster communication between the US and China.”

The sign read “Mr. DeSombre! Your job in Hong Kong was good, but it doesn’t work for Thailand.”

Former singer and member of the Thai Pakdee royalist group, Hurethai Muangboonsri, led the rally and accused the US government of creating divide in Thailand, without providing any details or evidence.

“Don’t make Thais fight among each other or our nation will collapse. Remember that! Stop the conflict and stop the interference. This is Thailand, not Hong Kong.”

It’s unclear how many people showed up at the rally, but Nation Thailand says 20 police officers from Lumpini Station were deployed to secure the area around the embassy.

Whether or not the US is meddling with Thai politics, a pro-democracy activist told The Thaiger in a previous interview that political protests in America have influenced and motivated some in Thailand to rally and speak up for change.

SOURCES: Nation Thailand| US Government

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Thailand

145 more on Special Tourist Visa arrive in Bangkok

Caitlin Ashworth

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145 more on Special Tourist Visa arrive in Bangkok | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

145 people on the new Special Tourist Visa arrived in Bangkok yesterday from Guangzhou, China, the second group after Thailand’s 7 month ban on international tourists. 39 people on the new long stay visa arrived last week, a small, yet significant step forward for Thailand as it pries open the borders for tourists, albeit with a lot of paperwork, restrictions AND the 14 day quarantine.

The country went from welcoming millions of tourists each month before the pandemic to zero from late-March until a few weeks ago. In 2019, nearly 40 million tourists visited Thailand.

All the tourists passed the Covid-19 screening upon arrival at the Suvarnabhumi Airport. They are now required to go through a 14 day quarantine at an approved hotel or facility before travelling the country.

The tourists were on the same China Southern Airlines flight as 118 foreigners with Thai work permits who were entering Thailand for business purposes, according to the airport’s deputy director Kittipong Kittikachon. 16 Thais were also on the flight, travelling back home from China.

While some have been concerned that opening the borders to foreign tourists could cause another outbreak (even though the tourists are also required to quarantine), Kittipong says there is “no chance” that the coronavirus will spread from the tourists. He says strict health measures are in place and the tourists are coming from areas that are considered a “very low risk” with no recent local transmissions of the virus.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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Protests

Both rallies outside German Embassy broke the law – deputy police chief

Caitlin Ashworth

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Both rallies outside German Embassy broke the law – deputy police chief | The Thaiger
PHOTOS: เยาวชนปลดแอก - Free YOUTH

Both of the rallies outside the German Embassy in Bangkok – the royalists and government supporters earlier yesterday afternoon and the pro-democracy protesters in the evening – are illegal, police say.

Deputy Metropolitan Police Chief Piya Tawichai says both rallies held outside the embassy on Sathorn Road did not have the permit required to hold a gathering and demonstrators violated Covid-19 prevention measures under the emergency order. The deputy police chief says police will investigate and remain neutral, enforcing the law equally regardless of political opinion.

Pro-democracy activists, who are calling on government and monarchy reform, had announced they would file what some call a “controversial” and “unprecedented” letter with the German Embassy, calling on the foreign officials to look into whether His Majesty the King conducted Thai political business on German soil where the he habitually resides.

HERE is details of the letter that was delivered.

Around 500 royalists got to the embassy first in the afternoon to show support for the Thai Monarch. Most were dressed in yellow, the colour representing the Thai Monarchy, and many waved the Thai flag and held up photos of the Royal family.

Later that evening, thousands of protesters, estimated to be up to 10,000, called on reform marched to the German Embassy from Sam Yan intersection to submit the letter. The Germany’s Foreign Minister responded by saying that they are continuously “keeping an eye out” and if anything is found to be illegal, there will be “immediate consequences.”

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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