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Anti-government protest rally attracts massive crowd, continues today

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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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Thailand

1 killed, 20 injured in gas pipe explosion in Samut Prakan

Caitlin Ashworth

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1 killed, 20 injured in gas pipe explosion in Samut Prakan | The Thaiger
PHOTO: mthai

A gas pipe explosion at a Samut Prakan industrial site killed 1 and injured 20 others. Flames burst in the air and those at homes in the province’s Bang Bo district fled the area. At this time, there’s been 1 confirmed death, an elderly bedridden woman, but Thai media reports there could be another death.

Around 40 to 50 fire engines were called to the scene to extinguish the fire at the site near Wat Preng Ratbanrung on Thepparat-Lat Krabang Road. The mayor of the tambon Preng administration organisation reported the incident in a broadcast on the traffic radio station JS100.

The gas pipe that exploded leads to the large-scale Asia Industrial Estate Suvarnabhumi, according to the senior executive vice president of PTT’s gas business unit.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

Government lifts Bangkok’s State of Emergency

Caitlin Ashworth

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Government lifts Bangkok’s State of Emergency | The Thaiger

Bangkok’s State of Emergency has been lifted, according to a statement published in the Royal Gazette, making it official. The order, banning large public gatherings, and censoring critical media commentary, was imposed last Thursday morning by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, leading to the breaking up a protest and the arrests of a number of activists.

“The current violent situation that led to the announcement of the severe situation has eased and ended to a situation in which government officials and state agencies can enforce the regular laws.”

Protesters ignored the orders and rallies only grew over the past week. The recent series of protests started on Wednesday, October 14 at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument. The demonstration happened to be at the same day and the same route as a royal motorcade, causing complications as well as a clash between the royal supporters and the protesters calling on reform.

Protesters walked to the Government House and intended to set up camp for a few days to put pressure on Prayut to resign. The protest was broken up at 4am the next morning after the prime minister issued the state of emergency. More than 20 activists were arrested, many faced charges of violating the emergency measures.

Despite the government orders, there have been rallies everyday. The emergency order also banned content on websites and social media considered to be a “threat to national security.” Some Thai media outlets covering the protests were under fire, and some authorities tired to suspend them under the emergency order. The court dismissed the requests to block those media companies, saying the Thai Constitution does not give the court power to shutdown media platforms.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Visa

Negative Covid-19 results for first group on the Special Tourist Visa

Caitlin Ashworth

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Negative Covid-19 results for first group on the Special Tourist Visa | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

Surely, the most anticipated and followed tourists ever to grace Thailand’s shores. All 39 visitors who flew in from China this week on the new Special Tourist Visa have tested negative for Covid-19. While it’s a small group, they’re the first foreign tourists to arrive since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

More international tourists are expected to arrive next week under the auspices of the new Special Tourist Visa. If there are no positive Covid-19 cases in the first groups, the government says they could start to lift restrictions, like cutting down the mandatory quarantine period, or allowing more applicants under the STV.

2 more groups travelling from China are expected to arrive next week on October 26 and 27, according to the tourism and sports minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn. Another group of travellers from Scandinavian countries are expected to arrive in November.

Reopening borders to foreign tourists has been a concern for some about the potential spread of the coronavirus, even though tourists are required to go through a 14 day quarantine period before travelling in the country. Phiphat says those entering Thailand on the Special Tourist Visa are only those from areas declared free of Covid-19 for at least a month.

“Europe now faces a second wave… The Tourism and Sports Foreign ministries will allow tourists from low-risk cities with zero new cases for more than 30 days.”

If there continues to be no positive Covid-19 cases from those on the Special Tourist Visa, Phiphat says they government could implement a more relaxed quarantine. Health officials have talked about cutting the quarantine down to 10 days and possibly just a week. Phiphat says they would first need approval from the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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