Conflicts & War

Anti-government protest movement gains momentum in Thailand

Bangkok, Jul 20  (EFE).- Student activists demonstrated against the Thai government on Monday and more protests are planned in the coming weeks despite being banned under the emergency Covid-19 laws in the Southeast Asian country.

Much larger protests were held on Saturday, with organisers saying some 2,500 people had attended, in a rare display of public dissidence.

On Monday, dozens of people turned up to demonstrate outside the Thai Army headquarters in Bangkok to call on the powerful military not to get involved in politics after a spokeswoman criticized the protests at the weekend.

Panupong “Mike” Jatnork, one of the protest leaders, also criticized the government for allegedly spending money on military equipment rather than medical resources during the pandemic.

“I would like to ask whether the bullets, guns, planes can save citizens from Covid,” he said in a speech shared on social media. “With luck, they won’t use our taxes to buy arms to harm us.”

Protesters also held up photos of Wanchalearm Satsaksit, a 37-year-old dissident who last month was allegedly kidnapped by armed men in Cambodia, where he had been living in exile. Several human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have accused the Cambodian and Thai governments of inaction.

Outside of the government headquarters in Thailand, representatives from pro-democracy student groups read a manifesto calling on the executive to help the country’s poorest families who have been affected by the pandemic.

Pumiwat Rangkasiwit, a member of the New Life Network, has begun a hunger strike until the government passes measures aimed at safeguarding the disadvantaged from the economic struggles triggered by Covid-19 and the lockdown.

“The government must immediately resolve the economic problems and welfare for everyone. If it can’t do it, it should resign. The government and government agencies should have measures to support and aid unemployed people at this time. The unemployment rate is high and it will continue to rise,” the manifesto said.

This new wave of demonstrations came after thousands gathered in front of the capital’s iconic Democracy Monument on Saturday calling for the dissolution of the parliament, constitutional changes and general elections.

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