Thailand

10,000 Gather In Bangkok to Protest Thailand's Monarchy

Increasing tensions between the military-backed ruling class and the student-led democracy movement have prompted massive rallies in the capital.

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Bangkok was rocked by mass protests Sunday, as thousands of pro-democracy citizens gathered in opposition to Thailand's military-backed monarchy.

Upwards of 10,000 people participated in the rally, according to organizers and law enforcement. The event attracted a myriad of groups, including feminist and gay rights organizations that are typically out of frame in Thailand's conservative culture. But the demonstration's chief themes were self-government, civil liberties, and the economic devastation wrought by COVID-19. The rally featured a speech from a transgender rights activist and a performance by a group called Rap Against Dictatorship. As night fell, attendees waved phone flashlights in the air.

The rally was also met with a small counter-protest of around 60 royalists waving Thai flags and reenacting historical massacres of dissidents, but the gathering fizzled out.

Law enforcement was largely hands-off at the protests themselves. But the country's Criminal Court subsequently announced charges for 15 organizers, who planned to turn themselves into authorities.

Since Thailand's absolute monarchy fell in 1932, the country has seen 12 military coups. It was led directly by a military government until 2019, and it continues to have a military-backed regime. Displeasure with the Thai government had been brewing since the 2019 election: Despite winning a majority of parliamentary seats, the opposition Pheu Thai Party was not allowed to form a government after many reported irregularities and electoral rule changes, leading many to call the results rigged. As a result, the incumbent prime minister, Prayuth Chan-Ocha, was allowed to remain in power.

Discontent with the Thai government has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. A massive drop in tourism, which drives 10 percent of Thailand's GDP, contributed to a 12.2 percent contraction of GDP in the second quarter of this year. The outbreak was exploited to legitimize an extensive crackdown against dissent, according to an Amnesty International report.

Although Thailand is technically a constitutional monarchy, King Maha Vajiralongkorn holds significant sway over the country's government, and has established an "unprecedented degree of control over the military, the police and the judiciary" according to Pavin Chachavalpongpun of Kyoto University. While the country's last king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, was highly revered, Vajiralongkorn is much less popular. He rules abroad from Germany. 

Protests in Thailand have grown massively in the last few weeks. Last weekend, about 3,000 people attended a student rally at Thammasat University, where organizers presented the regime with 10 reform demands, including the abolition of the lèse-majesté law, which punishes defamation of the monarchy with prison terms of up to 15 years. The activists also called on the king to stop legitimizing military coups. (Historically, the monarchy has aligned itself with the military and against civilian rule.)

Success for the coalition is far from certain. The Thai government has been measured in its response thus far, but historically it has had few reservations about using deadly force to curb dissent. In 1976, right-wing paramilitary forces, with the backing of law enforcement, murdered at least 46 protesters, and perhaps as many as 100, at Thammasat University.

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  1. But the country’s Criminal Court subsequently announced charges for 15 organizers, who planned to turn themselves into authorities.

    Yeah, get those astroturfers.

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    3. Turn themselves into authorities? Or turn themselves in to authorities?

      I see much damage to communication recently by the blind contraction of other words with prepositions. Folks, “setup” is a noun; “set up” is a transitive verb phrase.

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  2. Beware of any student-led movement. No matter how hip, svelte and good looking they are, it can always get worse.

    1. Any “student lead” movement is almost guaranteed to a Marxist shit show that would create a regime a thousand times worse than the one it is seeking to replace. University students have been wrong about literally everything for at least 200 years now.

      1. Or an Islamic Theocracy, if you’re old enough to remember those sorts of things.

        1. Yes, that as well. I defy anyone to come up with a student lead movement that didn’t advocate for some sort of authoritarian nightmare to replace whatever regime they were protesting.

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          1. No wait, March for Our Lives…

          2. Kindergarteners for more naps and full-fat chocolate milk.

            1. And loan forgiveness?

          3. China 1989

        2. Islamism and Marxism are the two branches of progressivism.

      2. Not always. Many students in the 1940s were protesting for the right to private property and against Marxism, but they were imprisoned or worse. In 1989 many students again demonstrated against socialism, and for free markets and freedom of speech.

    2. It is also worth noting that the one anti-government protest movement that ever got it right and resulted in real improvement in the world was Solidarity, which was made up of dock workers. That is not by accident.

        1. Solidarnosc!

      1. The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was started by students and on the right track before being crushed by the Soviets.

        1. It would be hard to get worse (and more authoritarian) than the USSR.

            1. Cambodia was pretty bad from what I understand, so bad that their Communist neighbor, Vietnam even said “hey that is taking things to far”.

    3. No matter how hip, svelte and good looking they are, it can always get worse.

      Yes it can get worse. The demonstrators might mock the King’s poodle (Air Chief Marshall Fufu RIP). In which event, the full force of lese majeste will take hold and the protests in Hong Kong will look like a picnic.

    4. The student led movement in Korea helped the end military coups there and brought on reforms.

      But many Koreans have fond memories of Park Chung Hee, who came to power after a coup (violently suppressing opposition afterwards) and forced the then agrarian nation to modernize and industrialize. He furthered relationship with America and even sent troops to Vietnam. Without American attention and dramatic overhaul from the top, South Korea would have resembled Laos or any other poor south east Asian nation.

      History is rarely clean. The super powers all have en extensive history of conquest, foreign subjugation and consolidating of resources. A third of China once belonged to an ancient Korean kingdom. The ME dictators often shut down the more radical fundamentalists of their society.

      I support the Thai protests on principle, but it’s very likely that they’re socialists. Democracy gives the people the consent to ruin themselves rather than kings. They need a constitutional republic.

  3. Thailand’s economy shrank by 12% in the second quarter.
    Economic anxiety provokes similar responses all over the world.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2020/06/images-worldwide-protest-movement/612811/

    If these people weren’t protesting over George Floyd or Yul Brynner, it would have been something else.

    Violating the right to peaceably assemble and protest, like violating freedom of religion, has negative consequences–regardless of whether any constitution or government officially protects it.

    In times of economic turmoil, this is what people do. Don’t let ’em do that, and things would probably be worse. Let ’em do worse, like we’ve done in Portland for months, and their reason for doing worse doesn’t go away–until the economic anxiety goes away.

    1. Worldwide protests were happening long before covid.
      See South America, Hong Kong, France, Lebanon, etc

  4. Makes you wonder if this century’s Marxist assholes will be worse than last century’s. I don’t know how you top it. I’m guessing between the idiot leftists and jihadists one or both will start using nukes.

    1. This may have as much of an ideological basis behind it as a soccer riot in the aftermath of a big loss. We’ve never seen the whole world take such a harsh hit on the economy in such a short period of time. Everybody all over the world is pissed off at whomever is in charge. These may be emotional reactions rather than ideological . People’s plans go bad, and they get pissed off. “Defund the Police” and “Workers of the World, Unite” are sometimes just another way of saying, “Fuck you!”. Dogs don’t growl because they’re Marxists. They growl because they’re hungry.

      1. Again, this stuff was happening before covid.
        Several countries in South America, France, Lebanon, Iran, Hong Kong.
        The discontent with the ruling class has been building for years.
        Brexit and Trump were peaceful alternatives to violent revolution.

  5. Oh, speaking of cracking down on agitators, Chicago Mayor (can’t remember what party she’s from) has banned protests in her neighborhood and brought in an army of police officers and an armored vehicle to enforce it.

    1. Citing threats, Mayor Lori Lightfoot defends ban on protesters on her block: ‘I have a right to make sure that my home is secure’ »

      But you don’t have a right to defend yourself, pleb!

      1. She has a right to make sure he home is secure. She never said anything about you or anyone else having that right. In fact, it is pretty clear she doesn’t think anyone but her has the right to be secure in their homes.

      2. If there was ever a time for blue flu this is it.

        1. It’s pretty pathetic that cops in these cities keep showing up

    2. Pittsburgh Mayor did as well.

      1. Rulers gotta rule.

  6. Take it from a country that’s already been through this – when it comes to student-led movements, you need to crush them mercilessly!

    1. Change the voting age to once you’ve had a regular paying full-time job for six months. Not even Marxist academics could find some way to pay them all to attend classes; not even Harvard’s endowment could absorb that. But Lizzie and others would push through legislation to pay them. “After all, learning is a full time job in and of itself.”

      1. I wouldn’t even change the voting age. I would make it that anyone who is declared a dependent on someone else’s taxes cannot vote. If you are 19 and are off your parents taxes and paying your own way, you should be able to vote. If you are some manchild living in mom’s basement still on her insurance and still being claimed as a dependent, fuck you, mom can vote for you.

        1. And if you’re on welfare…

          1. And if you’re a government employee…

            1. And if you’re a net tax recipient.

      2. $10k per incoming freshman per year is like 5% of their annual endowment growth. Not the whole endowment, how much it’s growing by

  7. Thai tourism is down? Are we sure it’s because of COVID and not because you no longer have to travel to Thailand to find a ladyboy to have sex with?

    1. Ladyboy isn’t the preferred nomenclature.
      Also, Thailand has pirates

      1. So when I’ve searched it o. Duck Duck Go I used the wrong nomenclature. I am so embarrassed.

  8. The rally was also met with a small counter-protest of around 60 royalists waving Thai flags and reenacting historical massacres of dissidents

    Wow, that is some badass trolling.

  9. One of my best friends tried to marry a Thai bar girl and got taken for over $40 grand (she was a hot piece of ass though).
    He married a non-gogo Thai girl and keeps bugging me to visit him in Bangkok so we can whore it up in Soi Cowboy and Phuket but I don’t feel like mingling with Slavic fat fucks and shlubby Asians.

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