With 3 updates: Protesting against the regime

17 08 2020

The very large and festive rally at the Democracy Monument, led by the Free People group – previously the Free Youth group – stuck to their three demands. According to the usually under-estimating Bangkok Post, “at least 10,000 protesters rallied at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok on Sunday…”.

The rally emphasized the illegitimacy of a regime born of a military coup and repeatedly “called on the government to stop harassing individuals who are exercising their rights in accordance with democratic principles and set up a charter-drafting body to come up with a new constitution based on the will of the people.”

Clipped from nrc.nl

There were also calls for the “government to dissolve parliament to allow the people to exert their right to elect their own representatives…”.

There was little of the previous rally’s demands for the monarchy to be reformed. That seemed to reflect the panic that set in among the older generation who repeatedly warned and/or threatened 6 October-style clashes and massacre.

This generation mistakes its conservatism for “wisdom” and, as ever in status-conscious, royalist Thailand, feels it knows better than the students. They fail to understand that they are now the people of the past and that a new generation does things differently.

Of course, we are generalizing. There are some who have supported the students, including academics, some politicians, public figures and even the perennial conservative monarchist.

Before the rally, a ragtag clutch of ultra-royalists showed up to “protect” the monarchy. The limpness of this “protest” suggests that the fears of the older generation are, for the moment, overblown. At the same time, it is clear that the ultra-royalists are not yet being egged on by the regime and the military and have limited funding from the usual suspects among the tycoons and military intelligence.

For the moment, the regime seems set on using the law as a means to repress, with the Criminal Court having “issued warrants for the arrests of 15 key members of the Free People movement, in connection with the protest held at the Democracy Monument on July 18th, 2020.”

In addition to those already grabbed and charged (and bailed) –  university student Parit Chiwarak, human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa and activist Panupong Jadnok, 12 others are being traced. They are:

Ms. Chuthatip Sirikhan, Ms. Lalana Suriyo, Nawat Liangwattanayam, Tadthep Ruangprapaikitseri, Karnnithi Limcharoen, Natthavuth Somboonsap, Chatupat Boonpattharaksa, Ms. Chirathita Thammarak, Korakot Saengyangpant, Mrs. Suwanna Tarnlek, Thanayuth na Ayudhya and Baramee Chairat.

For more on the rally, see here, here, and here.

Update 1: For a flavor of the variety of issues at the rally, including a call for Patani’s “self-determination,” see here.

Update 2: For an example of the aged paternalism of Thailand’s elite and their handmaidens in the media, see the op ed by Veera Prateepchaikul. While he gives the impression of reasonableness, the op ed is critical of the students, demeans them and implicitly calls for action against them. Like so many others of the yellow shirt ilk, Veera is unable to conceive of the students thinking for themselves. He states: “[q]uestions have been raised about the origin of the 10-point list of demands as critics doubt students were capable of crafting such a list or possessed sufficient knowledge of the history of the monarchy.” What a pile of buffalo manure. The intent is to label the students republican pawns and to point the accusing figure at progressive politicians. No wonder the students want to overturn this gerontology.

Update 3: The geriatric rightists will be up in arms again now that high school students have come up with another act of defiance. It is reported that three-fingered anti-junta salutes went up in “multiple schools across the country on Monday” as the students “turned the daily flag-raising ceremony into an act of solidarity with the ongoing anti-government protests.” Some teachers apparently were so aghast that they assaulted students. That could mean dozens more schools seeing similar acts of defiance tomorrow. This goes along with the campaign by university students to refuse to receive their degrees from royals.


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