FEATURE-‘We are all leaders today’: Arrests don’t stop Thai protests

In this news, we discuss the FEATURE-‘We are all leaders today’: Arrests don’t stop Thai protests.

“They think stopping the leaders will stop us. It’s useless. We are all leaders today, ”said Pla, 24, addressing thousands of protesters at the Bangkok Victory Monument on Sunday.

Despite the arrest of several of Thailand’s most prominent protest leaders over the past week, protests have escalated, with growing calls for the ousting of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and reforms of the monarchy of King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Borrowing partly from the Hong Kong protest handbook and partly working for themselves, heretofore unknown protesters have thwarted police efforts and demonstrated the greatest public support for change in decades.

It was designed that way. “Prepare your megaphones, put on your protective gear, because everyone is a leader”, announced the demonstration of the group Free Youth Facebook post on Sunday.

Prior to his arrest on Saturday, famous Panupong face “Mike Rayong” Jadnok, 24, sent the same signal using the hashtag #everybodyisaleader on Facebook. Even the sites for the protests were decided by votes on social media groups. Several protest announcements possible sites let the police guess. By the time they show up, thousands of people have already gathered.

Police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen called the situation “very dynamic,” adding: “What we can say now is to warn the public that they must obey the law.” The lack of leadership on the pitch caused difficult times on Saturday when people seemed unsure of who to speak. Protests in Thailand traditionally involve a series of speakers on a stage.

Suthida “Smile” Buakhom, 20, intervened at a rally with a microphone she had brought in hopes that it might be needed due to the arrest of dozens of activists. “I know people can’t stay in one place for long without some sort of focus,” she told Reuters. “I try to encourage everyone to stand up and talk.”

HONG KONG MODEL Thai protesters quickly adopted the “Be Water” tactics of Hong Kong protesters, but also gained moral support from activists who see a struggle comparable to an authoritarian system. Thai protesters seek to oust Prayuth, a former junta leader, and reduce the powers of the monarchy.

“Be kind to your comrades, have faith in collective wisdom, be fluid on strategies, be determined in actions,” Hong Kong activist Nathan Law tweeted on Sunday in support of Thai protesters. “Never lose hope, stay safe.” Some 13 activists who first met at Bangkok’s Asok intersection on Sunday debriefed after crowds of thousands dispersed peacefully – agreeing to a new focus group to keep in touch to prepare at future events.

“I came today to help with the organization, but when I arrived there was no natural leader yet, so I just started talking,” said Omyim, who only gave than his nickname. One of those who came forward, PK, was older than the others at 30 and helped provide security – everyone was concerned that the police might again use water cannons and batons as they l ‘did during a demonstration on Friday.

“We have to protect the activists, especially the younger protesters,” he told Reuters. He and other protesters had tied their arms to separate the protest area from traffic and ensure people had space to move. The activists taught each other the hand signals: “Danger”, “Safe”, “Someone has been arrested”, “Cannot hear”, “Need water” and more.

As rumors spread that the police might approach the various protests, human chains have linked to pass on protective gear such as helmets, goggles and umbrellas. And beyond immediate security concerns, social media accounts have sprung up to indicate where protesters can find restrooms, where they could find missing friends or property, or if they need a bed for them. the night.

A student leader who rose to prominence in previous protests said she was stepping out of the limelight, having so far avoided arrest. “Now I’m just one of the people who want to see change alongside everyone else,” Chonthicha ‘Lookkate’ Jangrew, 27, told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Jiraporn Kuhakan written by Matthew Tostevin editing by Frances Kerry)

News Highlights:

  • One of those who came forward, PK, was older than the others at 30 and helped provide security – everyone was concerned that the police might again use water cannons and batons as they l ‘did during a demonstration on Friday. “We need to protect activists, especially young protesters,” he told Reuters.
  • FEATURE – ‘We are all leaders today’: arrests do not stop Thai protests
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