Thai Protests

Thai Protests

Josie Roberts, Writer

All eyes turn to Thailand as political unrest turns to protests in the streets. Ever since the military took over the government in 2014, there have been people who disagree with it,  but now many Thai people are starting to demonstrate their indignation on a larger scale. 

Thailand used to be a complete monarchy until 1932. In that year there was a democratic revolution that resulted in the country becoming a constitutional monarchy. That means it has an elected prime minister as the head of government while the monarchs still play a role as being a symbol of national identity and unity. The country is currently run by the military but an election was held in 2019 for prime minister.

The protests started after the March elections of last year. The election was seen as an opportunity for change after the military took over the government in 2014 and the first time to vote for many young people and first time voters. The current prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, was re-elected, but the new party known as the Future Forward Party(FFP) was very popular among first-time voters and young people. The FFP’s core values were the principles of democracy and the principles of human rights. The party was dissolved after one of the leaders of the FFP gave 6 million dollars as a loan. Because he said it was a loan the leaders of FFP thought that it would be exempt from a law that makes it illegal for one person to donate too much money to a political party. The court did not see it this way and the party was disbanded and its leaders banned from politics for ten years.

There have been many protests since the disbandment but the tone of the Thai protests for democracy quickly escalated on October 16, when, only meters away from a site where the military had massacred scores of anti-government protesters only a decade earlier, military forces turned water canons onto youthful protesters. After the apparent abduction and murder of many Thai dissidents living abroad, many young people knew that now was the time to rebel. As the protests gain strength the demands of the demonstrators have also become more focused on greater transparency in and reform of the monarchy

The symbol of the protests is something that many young adults may recognize, three middle fingers in the air inspired by a Hunger Games gesture. In the books, the gesture is a symbol of rebellion against an oppressive government. Like the fictional nation Panem, Thailand has a leader that, according to a protest leader, has done nothing to aid the people. Prayuth Chan-Ocha “doesn’t have any legitimacy left to be prime minister,” say’s Patsaravalee Tanakitvibulpon, a protest leader who was arrested on Wednesday the 21st of October and later released on bail. She says that “Prayuth Chan-Ocha doesn’t have any trustworthiness left for us. Therefore, he must resign, along with his entire cabinet.” 

Thai citizens are tired of not having a say in their government. We often take for granted that we live in a place where we can vote for our leaders and don’t feel threatened if we speak out against the government. What the protesters are doing takes immense courage and determination. Successful or not, the protesters have made a global impact.

 

Sources For More Information:

BBC World News

National Public Radio