Anti-government protests in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Ubon Ratchathani are continuing to spread, with thousands expected to gather at the University of Mahasarakham on Wednesday to demand the government restore full-fledged democracy to the people.
After thousands turned up on Saturday at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok to demand Gen. Prayuth Chan-o-cha to step down and dissolve the parliament after his government’s lockdown measures and sweeping power have concentrated power.
The rally, the largest protest since those of 2014 which precipitated Prayuth’s coup d’etat, continued hours for hours until midnight.
Organizers of the Free Youth group said that if the government doesn’t meet its demands in two weeks, another rally will take place.
Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong tweeted his support for the Thai protesters on Sunday, rejoicing over the so-called #MilkTeaAlliance which has seen Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand fighting against authoritarianism.
“#Hongkongers will never forget how our Thai fellows stood with us against #China’s nationalist trolls during #nnevvy saga and spoke up for us amid #Beijing’s authoritarian suppression in #HK. #MilkTeaAlliance,” Wong wrote. “That is the shared destiny for youths worldwide amid democratic backlashes – We want our democracy back. We want our future back.”
Thailand since late March has been under the Emergency Decree, ostensibly enacted by Gen. Prayuth and his government to contain COVID-19. The state of emergency has been criticized as a pretense to lock down unrest.
The movement also called out the government for the harassment and alleged abduction of its critics. Last month, Thai exile in Cambodia Wanchalerm Satsaksit was seen abducted near his apartment. He hasn’t been seen since and is feared dead.
The protests are a resumption of those which began prior to the pandemic in the wake of the court-ordered dissolution of a popular reformist party.
Prior to the peak of COVID-19 infections in March, students from universities and schools nationwide hosted campus rallies demanding wholesale change. Some student activists claimed they were subsequently harassed by authorities.