Water cannons meet rubber ducks . . .
Pro-democracy protesters in Bangkok gathered on Tuesday and Wednesday to pressure legislators as they discussed constitutional changes in a special two-day parliamentary session. Protesters used inflatable rubber ducks as shields against tear gas and water cannons in the most violent clashes between demonstrators and riot police since protests began earlier this year. At least 55 people were injured, and others were treated for bullet wounds, although it is unclear who fired the shots. Student leader Parit ‘Penguin’ Chiwarak told a crowd of supporters that there would be no compromise, reaffirming protesters’ commitment to take to the streets until their demands – including the resignation of the prime minister, amendments to the 2017 constitution, and reforming the monarchy – are addressed by the government.
‘People’s draft’ rejected . . .
Inside the walls of parliament, legislators discussed seven draft constitutional amendments, including the ‘people’s draft’ proposed by legal watchdog iLaw and endorsed by nearly 100,000 Thai citizens. The people’s draft is the most detailed and democratic of the proposed amendments and calls for the creation of an elected constitutional drafting committee to amend all sections of the constitution, including those relating to the monarchy. However, the people’s draft was rejected after failing to receive enough votes from MPs and senators.
Little hope for institutional channels . . .
The parliamentary sessions are an attempt by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha to demonstrate some good faith toward the pro-democracy movement. Although the people’s draft was defeated, other approved proposals led to the formation of a panel to discuss amendments. Protesters, however, may view this as an attempt by the government to buy time instead of addressing their immediate concerns. The path towards constitutional change is fraught with legal hurdles. Any amendment can be blocked by two-thirds of the military-appointed senate or the senate-appointed constitutional court. The government and its supporters fiercely oppose any changes regarding the monarchy, which is at odds with one of the pro-democracy movement’s core demands. With the next demonstration scheduled for November 25, protesters are already bracing themselves to up the ante.
- Al-Jazeera: Thai protesters, police clash as Parliament mulls charter change
- Bangkok Post: iLaw charter draft favoured by protesters rejected
- Prachatai English: Call for constitutional amendments answered with tear gas, water cannon