Flash-mob protests hit Thailand . . .
Protestors have been staging flash-mob demonstrations across Thailand in opposition to the military-backed government and Thai monarchy. Protestors’ demands include the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, dissolution of the current parliament, a new constitution, and an end to repressive laws. The largest flash-mob was held on July 18 in Bangkok, organized by the Free Youth group and Student Union of Thailand. Since then, 40 more protests have been staged across the country.
COVID a pre-text for a crackdown . . .
The recent protests began in February, when a court ruling ordered the dissolution of a pro-democracy opposition party, Future Forward, over a loan the party received from its leader. Protestors believe the group was targeted for its popularity and critical stance on the government. The COVID-19 pandemic dampened these initial protests, but Thailand has since successfully contained its outbreak, with no local transmission in the past two months. Protestors have also been critical of the government’s repeated extensions of the state of emergency, which they argue is being used to stifle dissent and free speech. Chan-ocha has been in power since 2014, when, as a general, he led the Thai military in a coup against the previous democratically-elected government. Chan-ocha was officially elected as Prime Minister in 2019, transitioning from a military general to a civilian leader. But activists have argued that the election process was not transparent.
Rap, cartoons, and support from Hong Kong . . .
The 2020 demonstrations are the most recent iteration of protests calling for the dissolution of the military-backed government. Protestors have used creative methods of criticizing the government, including a well-known rap song by the group Rap Against Dictatorship, called ประเทศกูมี (Prathet Ku Mee) or “What My Country’s Got.” Protestors are also using the theme song from the Japanese cartoon Hamtoro as a protest anthem, replacing the lyrics with critical slogans like, “The most delicious food is taxpayers’ money . . . dissolve the parliament!” The protests in Thailand have received support from Hong Kong activists, who have coined the term Milk Tea Alliance to show their support for one another.