Thailand’s Protest for Democracy: What’s (not) happening!
Updated: Dec 3, 2020
by Passion Asasu (edited by Timothy Angus)
Outlines the protest movement and its Three demands
After more than half a decade of military government control and oppression in Thailand. We (groups of Thai pro-democracy advocates), started movements to call for real democracy. Thai people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and be given basic human rights!
The protests in Thailand and around the world are using the three-fingered salute from The Hunger Games movies to represent 'Freedom, liberty and fraternity’ and to demand from the government our three demands: first the PM must resign, second a new constitution written by the people not the government, and third to reform the monarchy.
Growing up in Thailand, we were indoctrinated to believe in 'Nation, Religion and Monarchy'. We had this ideology, especially the love for the Monarchy, drilled into us by schools, teachers, books - even educational materials, media, social events and government. The social events including the King’s Birthday, Queen’s Birthday and the anniversary of the Kings’ passings are given a high status .Much higher than significant people driven events such as the pro-democracy rally on 14 October 1973 and the student massacre on 6 October 1976 at Thammasat University. Moreover, there are the charges of Act 112, known as the lese-majeste law, that subjects anyone criticising the royal family to secret trials and long prison sentences. The question simply is “How can talking about someone result in a jail sentence?” There are numerous people who were charged by this unfair law, without proof, and no one from the government helped them out of it. If the government is not working for its people then what’s the point of their existence?
In addition, the government has rigged the most recent election by adding their selection of 250 seats into the national council and rewriting the constitution in their own favour. In spite of these advantages that the government gave itself, pro-democracy people in Thailand remained hopeful. That was because the Future Forward party that gained immense popularity was pro-democracy. However, the government found unfair ways to undermine the party and destroy their rights in power. Unbiased media that spoke or wrote about the government’s failures were threatened by being told that their channel will be blocked. One of the main failures of the government that have caused great pain to Thai people are the terrible economic policies and corruption. That stripped away the chance of economic prosperity for Thai people. In addition these failures have further enlarged the wealth gap between rich and poor in Thailand.
Protests erupted in 2020 due to the absolute failures of the government, including: attacking and persecuting democratically elected council members, not supporting the people during the Corona crisis, not tackling corruption, not addressing the blurry role of the Monarchy in Thai politics and using the rightful of act 112 to oppress people. The growing movement amongst Thai people (mainly students) has been calling for political reform in Thailand and around the world. Instead of listening to its people, the government has acted to the
contrary by labeling the protesters as young, stupid and naive puppets. Additionally, the government has ignored the legitimate voices of the people’s demands and started violence against peaceful protesters. On 17 November 2020, Thai police used tear gas and water cannons laced with irritating chemicals to disperse protesters in Bangkok. The protesters who came to the protests with their bare hands and rubber ducks, were forced to use them as shields against police water cannons. Why use such excessive force against peaceful protests? Why did the police who earn their salaries through our tax fight against the people instead of taking care of them? This is clear evidence that the officers are biased in favour of the government and over-reacted violently to harm people, arrested innocent protesters and sent a message to the people that they are not allowed to express their human rights.
As a member of the TDPG group (Thai Democratic People in Germany), I stand to insist on the equitable rights that we deserve and to support the movements in Thailand and in Berlin, Germany. Our group has assembled a movement and carried out demonstrations at the Brandenburg gate on 19th September 2020 and on 17th October 2020 and will carry on making the call for real democracy - whether offline or online according to the Corona crisis rules in Germany. Our aim is to spread awareness of the Thai Democratic Crisis to the world and to help support the Thai pro-democracy movement in the real battlefield in Thailand.
The key strength of the Thai Democratic Movements in Thailand and around the world is that we don’t follow the traditional leadership structure: we don’t have one leader spearheading the movement rather a common belief in an agreed upon set of ideals called the people’s 3 demands. When the government arrests one of our members, the government encourages more people to join our movement as they provide evidence of their own injustice.
What will happen next with the Thai Democratic Movement? I cannot say because there is no singular leader, therefore there is no singular direction or action. However, what I can say for sure is “What will NOT happen in Thailand”. We will not surrender, we will not be taken advantage of and we will not stand for being oppressed any longer. Those who attained power illegitimately must step down in our generation!
The Thai Democratic Movements are not going to stop until the government accepts the 3 peoples’ demands: first the PM must resign, second a new constitution written by the people not the government, and third to reform the monarchy.