Thousands of anti-government protesters flooded the streets of Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city, on Monday, November 25, with the opposition leading the event calling for “a campaign of civil disobedience,” including a three-day strike and a request for Thai businesses to delay paying their taxes. At least four very large, vocal demonstrations were held in Bangkok on Monday, which caused many schools and businesses to close, due to fear of violence. These fears are completely justified; these protests echo back to the politics that destabilized the country in the years past, striking fear into the hearts of many Thai citizens. Protest leaders seem to be ignoring these fears, however, and are instead urging Thai citizens to join the fight; Suthep Thaugsuban, one of the leaders, said to one of the many crowds on Monday, “I would like to urge all Thais to fight with the people so that a great, absolute and sustainable victory belongs to Thailand.”
That victory for the Thai people, however, has quickly turned violent, just as was feared. Protesters attempting to gain access into the barricaded government headquarters on Sunday, armed with rocks and petrol bombs, were met with police retaliation and gunshots. This is the first instance of force being used by police since the protests started on Monday, and the retaliation is sparking further fear of more violence and blood shed. The Thai police force has been using water cannons and tear gas in attempts to quell the rebellion, but these non-lethal means of prevention have not prevented deaths and injuries from occurring; so far, three people are dead and dozens more are wounded.
These protests are mainly occurring in attempts to give voice to those who wish to overthrow prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration. Yingluck Shinawatra has fled to an undisclosed location, and in the process cancelled multiple interviews and public appearances. The protests have also interfered with local businesses, with multiple malls being shut down due to the riots, and with at least four television stations being overtaken and invaded by protesters who demand that their news be shared and broadcasted, rather than the government’s stories.
As the situation is on going, concrete death polls and injury counts remain elusive, and information can be incomplete. Though the situation may not be entirely clear, it is still dangerous, and this writer urges those in Thailand to stay as safe as they can, and to avoid conflict when possible. Her thoughts go out to those effected; may peace be achieved soon.
[Image courtesy of this YouTube video.]