Bangkok Shutdown: “Surround Government Buildings,” Says SuthepBy: Ashley Olds - January 14, 2014
As the Bangkok shutdown continues on, the protest speeches are heating up amidst a party-like atmosphere.
If you’re a bit unfamiliar with what’s been going on over in Thailand, it pretty much boils down to citizens wanting reform of a government they deem corrupt.
After former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was ejected by way of military coup in 2006, he then fled to Dubai to live in self-induced exile. Seeing as his alternative was a possible two-year prison sentence, this wasn’t a bad idea on his part; the billionaire who had triumphed politically via populist policies would face corruption convictions should he return home. Meanwhile, back in Thailand, his little sister, Yingluck Shinawatra took over.
Although she vehemently denied it, her position was promptly perceived as her being a puppet and extension of her older brother. The final straw setting off the protests came this past November when Yingluck tried to pass an amnesty bill that would have allowed Thaksin to return and be forgiven. While that bill was shelved, Yingluck has still dissolved Parliament and set elections to take place next month. Seeing as every party backed by Thaksin has won elections since 2001, protestors are not about to go down without a fight before February.
“Yingluck is not good, Thaksin is not good, we need reform before elections,” a protester told TIME.
This thought is a shared theme of the movement and Suthep Thaugsuban (protest leader of the Democratic Reform Committee) has been reinforcing it fervently in his charismatic orations during the ongoing protests.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) January 14, 2014
Also, models, vee-jays, and other public figures have shown up to the event in favor of reform and Yingluck’s departure from office. Pharunyoo “Tac” Rojanawuttitham (a celebrated singer and actor), has been consistently supporting the cause for months, saying, “I’m willing to give up my jobs to help salvage Thailand.”
Certainly, celebrities in a festive atmosphere of food, music, and face-paint serve as a continued attraction when the revolutionary fervor starts to wane. However, as time is of the essence, Suthep implores supporters to amplify their attempts to stymie state institutions, insisting:
“We must surround government buildings, closing them in the morning and leaving in the afternoon.”
Following his direction, protestors have been occupying main intersections, impeding access to government offices, and marching to government buildings to partake in symbolic occupation (entering the offices for a brief period and departing thereafter). As the groups demonstrate, they are attempting to do so civilly. PDRC spokesman Akanat Prompan stated, “We will stick with peaceful means to achieve our goal to reform,” adding, “We are trying to limit any possible damages to general public and businesses.”
As Thailand is still recovering from 90 deaths incurred during a demonstration in 2010, police pledge not to deal with protestors via violence either.
Image via Youtube