ASIA/THAILAND - Youth protests continue

Tuesday, 20 October 2020 politics   civil society   new technologies   youth   democracy   human rights  

Bangkok (Agenzia Fides) - Sixth consecutive day of protests in Bangkok and other cities in Thailand since October 15. The protests continued every afternoon after police arrested those responsible for the protest and evacuated the protesters' camp in front of the government building in Bangkok. In order to suppress dissent, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had issued a decree that exacerbated the state of emergency that already existed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. After the decree was approved by the executive on October 16, police used water cannons to disperse the crowd that gathered in the city center in the afternoon. The images went around the world and embarrassed the government which, in the following days, allowed the street demonstrations to take place without the intervention of the police, even if the arrests continued. The government, according to several observers, is undecided between imposing tougher measures (a curfew or even martial law) or a softer approach, which at the moment seems to prevail. Today, October 20, the government will discuss whether to convene a special session of Parliament to discuss the escalation of the conflict between the protesters and the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, whose resignation the protest movement is demanding.
The demonstration of October 19, held at three different points in the capital, ended peacefully at 7 p.m. when the gatherings spontaneously broke up. On Sunday 18 October, the demonstrators had gathered in two other areas of the city (Victory Monument a Asok intersection) while the day before the demonstrators were organized in five different parts of the city. The protesters meet on social media at the last minute to prevent the police from blocking the flow. However, police had previously been ordered not to intervene while protests continue in almost twenty Thai cities and large-scale demonstrations involving tens of thousands of young people take place in the capital.
The protesters are calling for the Prime Minister's resignation, for a constitutional reform that also changes the composition of the Senate, and for an amendment to the first two chapters of the constitution regarding the role of the monarchy.
The demonstrations began last February but since August they have taken on new strength. Meanwhile, the opposition party Pheu Thai has asked the court to overturn the Decree promulgated last Thursday by the Prime Minister, which exacerbates the state of emergency.
Thailand is no stranger to protest movements: there have been several waves of demonstrations over the past decade, as well as a military coup. But there is news about this latest campaign of protest: it is made up mostly of students and young workers and the movement challenges both the power of the military-backed government and the traditionally revered monarchy, and brings to light the democratic demans of Thai civil society. (MG-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 20/10/2020)