BANGKOK – Thai pro-democracy protesters returned to Bangkok’s streets Wednesday for a thunderous “pots and pans” rally in opposition to the arrest of their leaders and as an act of solidarity with mass protests in opposition to a navy coup in Myanmar.
Protests in Myanmar after the February 1 navy coup started with acts of civil disobedience, together with the beating of pots and pans, to drive away “evil” — a customized now enacted nightly concentrating on the military that toppled the elected authorities of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Wednesday night, 1000’s of Thai protesters preventing their very own pro-democracy battle used the identical methodology of dissent in opposition to a authorities stacked with generals that’s struggling to search out solutions to the financial harm attributable to COVID-19.
“The pots-and-pans theme is impressed by Myanmar,” stated protester Napasin Treelayapewat, 16. “However it’s additionally a symbolic gesture from the Thai individuals to point out that they’re ravenous, as a result of pots and pans to some are instruments to earn a residing. And now, they don’t have anything left.”
Thailand and Myanmar share an extended, porous frontier. A whole lot of 1000’s of Myanmar migrants ship remittances house from jobs within the Thai kingdom, which has Southeast Asia’s second-largest financial system.
Thailand’s second wave of COVID-19 was blamed on Myanmar migrants, who illegally crossed the border for work.
However to the defiant, Era Z protesters in each international locations, there are tight, political bonds — cast over the web — and a shared enmity towards armies that refuse to let democracy take root.
Thailand’s pro-democracy protests started final yr, calling for the resignation of the federal government of ex-army chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha, the drafting of a brand new structure and reform of the once-untouchable monarchy.
Thailand’s navy has carried out 13 coups because the kingdom turned a constitutional monarchy in 1932, and just one elected civilian authorities has been allowed to serve its full time period within the final 30 years. Prayuth carried out a coup in 2014.
A number of key leaders have been detained this week for defaming the army-backed monarchy — against the law punishable by as much as 15 years in jail.
Protesters in downtown Bangkok carried placards studying “No 112” in reference to the felony code provision on royal defamation.
‘What about us?’
As evening fell, scuffles broke out with authorities at a police station the place the leaders have been being held.
“The Myanmar protests have confirmed us how politically aware they’re,” Thai protest chief Attapon Buapat informed the group outdoors the police station. “What about us? Can Thai individuals be as aware as this?”
The Thai authorities has not condemned the coup on its borders by Senior Common Min Aung Hlaing.
As an alternative, Prayuth on Wednesday informed reporters that “Thailand helps the democratic course of. The remaining is as much as him [Min Aung Hlaing] to see proceed.”
Within the hole between military-led governments, the neighboring protest actions have struck up a web based dialog, borrowing symbols and sharing suggestions and assist over social media.
“We have been impressed to make use of the three-fingers salute by the Thai protests,” Might, 25, a protester in Yangon, informed VOA by phone Wednesday, referring to the “Starvation Video games” salute common with Thailand’s pro-democracy motion.
Their protest reflexes — from the digital world of memes to the usage of laborious hats and umbrellas in opposition to water cannons on the streets — have been additionally honed by a hashtag (#MilkTeaAlliance) that binds Asia’s younger pro-democracy actions from Hong Kong and Taiwan to Thailand and now Myanmar.
“We retweet one another … and Hong Kong individuals share helpful info: pattern massively; protest and get media consideration; use apps to keep away from police tracing our conversations,” Might stated, giving a nickname just for safety causes.
Myanmar’s road motion flared shortly after the coup by the Tatmadaw — as Myanmar’s navy is thought — which swept away the landslide election victory of Suu Kyi’s Nationwide League for Democracy celebration (NLD).
However an unintended consequence of Myanmar’s motion is the reinvigoration of Thailand’s anti-authoritarian protesters, who’re formally banned from gathering below safety legal guidelines throughout the pandemic, and had broadly been dormant till the Myanmar coup.
“Tales, images and photographs of individuals standing up for his or her rights in Myanmar have emboldened Thailand’s pro-democracy motion,” stated Thai political commentator Voranai Vanijaka. “It says we aren’t alone on this combat.”