Anti-government rally a victory for progressive Thais

An important figure in Thailand’s Progressive Movement says the anti-government rally this weekend is a victory for Thais pushing for democracy in the Kingdom. Yesterday’s rally, the largest yet in the anti-government demonstrations that started in July, attracted up to 30,000 people although Thai security officials put the number around 18,000. Either figure makes the protest the biggest so far and punctuates the government’s headache about how to work around or respond the demands.

Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, a fierce opponent of the military, and past leader of the now disbanded Future Forward Party (which attracted the third highest vote of any party in last year’s elections) reacted by saying the protesters have succeeded in making Sanam Luang, the site of the current rally, the “people’s ground.” The ceremonial site is a large area adjacent to the Grand Palace and the name means “royal ground.” It’s historical significance is one of traditionally being used for royal activities, but Thanathorn says that its meaning has changed as it is now being considered a public place thanks to the recent protests. He called for those to “walk together” to petition for democracy.

“The past 14 years have been a failure for Thailand.”

The 2006 Thai coup d’état took place on September 19, 2006, when the Royal Thai Army staged a coup against the elected caretaker government of then-PM Thaksin Shinawatra.

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Thanathorn’s MP title was taken away last year after continually placing blame on the 2006 military coup, saying the nation’s problems were largely due to the coup and has pushed for the constitution to be reformed. He was the leader of the Future Forward Party which was disbanded by the Constitution Court earlier this year, which has been a contributing factor to the widespread anti-government protests in Bangkok.

The student led rally started yesterday and was held at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus despite not receiving permission from university officials to hold the rally. Protesters broke open the gate to the field and flooded the area, making it the largest anti-government rally to be held since the last military coup in May 2014.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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