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Pro-democracy leaders banned from speaking at Thammasat University massacre anniversary event

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Pro-democracy leaders banned from speaking at Thammasat University massacre anniversary event | Thaiger

3 pro-democracy leaders have been sidelined from speaking at this year’s Thammasat University Massacre 44th anniversary forum. Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, co-leaders of the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration and Arnon Nampa, a human rights lawyer, were apologetically singled out on committee member Krisadang Nutcharus’ Facebook post yesterday.

He says university executives did not offer an explanation as to why they would not be allowed to speak other than saying they felt uncomfortable with their presence at the forum. The university, long a hot bed of student political fervor and protest, has more recently tried to avoid too much political attention, most recently denying the September 19 protest from being held at their campus. The protesters broke through the gate and held it there anyway.

“The decision makes us understand the attitudes, views and cowardice of these executives. The reason we organise the October 6, 1976 event is because we want to urge Thai society to listen to differing opinions.”

He maintained that the youth sacrificed their lives during the October 6, 1976 massacre to protect rights and democracy and fell because they had differing opinions. The forum will take place at the Sri Burapha auditorium at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus.

Recently, the kingdom has been in turmoil over recent, student-led, anti-government protests, which has seen a plaque being placed stating that Thailand belongs to the people, only later to be removed with some of the rally’s leaders being arrested. Such rallies were not permitted by the university officials, but protesters pushed through campus gates and refused to leave, setting up camp-like areas for the more than 10,000 participants.

The Free Youth group announcing it will hold its next rally on October 14 at Democracy Monument. The United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration has also voiced its participation in the upcoming rally.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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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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Myanmar

Burmese refugees are being aided, PM Prayut assures

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Burmese refugees are being aided, PM Prayut assures | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: PM Prayut Chan-o-Cha

Burmese refugees along the Thai-Myanmar border are being provided with humanitarian assistance according to a statement by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday. PM Prayut spoke about the growing crisis at Government House Wednesday after a cabinet meeting. He said that the two countries, since they are neighbouring, need to be in agreement and work together and Thailand can’t take sharp independent action. He believes the problem must be addressed diplomatically.

The remarks come in defence of growing concern that the Thai government is not doing enough to help Burmese refugees affected by the military crackdown. PM Prayut pointed out that there’s already a government body in place designed to address and handle issues along the border, called the Thai-Myanmar Township Border Committee.

“It doesn’t mean we don’t care when speaking in terms of humanitarian affairs because it is about human lives. The government has suggested guidelines to solve [the crisis] via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ASEAN which will have a meeting shortly. We must solve the problem systematically. Because our two countries are next to each other, we can’t take decisions by ourselves. As for violence, we disagree [with it].”

The Immigration Bureau Chief estimates there are about 2,000 Burmese refugees currently in the Mae Hong Son province. Several Burmese refugees have even been treated within Thailand after being injured fighting inside the Myanmar border.

The issue is exacerbated by a dual crisis with the crackdown on protests following the Burmese coup and the expanding outbreak of Covid-19 transmission. Government officials are calling for cooperation along the border and in both countries to try to resolve the refugee crisis as well as contain Covid-19 outbreaks, which are currently on the rise again.

Six more checkpoints have been reopened in the meantime along the Thai-Burmese border since March. 46 of the 97 border openings are currently open with checkpoints in operation..

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Protests

Red Shirts leader vows to hold April 4 protest aimed at toppling government

Maya Taylor

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Red Shirts leader vows to hold April 4 protest aimed at toppling government | Thaiger
"Red shirt" protesters in Bangkok in 2010. PHOTO: Facebook / Matias Vilhena

The chairman of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, whose supporters are commonly known as the Red Shirts, says he will lead a protest on April 4 with the aim of toppling the government. Jatuporn Promphan vows to take charge of what he’s calling a prolonged protest, to oust the administration of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha.

According to a Thai PBS World report, Jatuporn has remained on the sidelines since his release from prison in August 2016, more of an observer than a participant in the ongoing political protests. However, in a Facebook Live broadcast, he says the situation in Thailand has reached a critical point and he can no longer look on without acting. In yesterday’s live feed, he pledged to heed the call of Adul Khieuboriboon, leader of the relatives of the “Black May” victims. Up to 200,000 people took part in the 1992 Black May protest in Bangkok, which was an uprising against the military government of the day.

“The military crackdown resulted in 52 government-confirmed deaths, hundreds of injuries including journalists, over 3,500 arrests, hundreds of disappearances, and eyewitness reports of a truck filled with bodies leaving the city. Many of those arrested are alleged to have been tortured.”– Wikipedia.

Jatuporn says the April 4 protest will be similar to the Black May event, which saw people of all political sides join forces to fight dictatorship. He admits that the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship is no longer seen as a credible political presence in Thailand and that many politicians dismiss the idea that he could attract a mass following. However, he still hopes that a variety of people with differing political views and ideologies will join Sunday’s rally.

He says the PM is to blame for the country’s problems and must be removed from office if things are to improve for Thailand and its people.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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