“We will fight until we win,” stated protest leader Nitithorn Lamlua, in regard to the Bangkok protest against the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawata. Lead by Nitithorn Lamlua, antigovernment opposition protestors flooded the streets of the Thai capital, with enthusiastic goals to bring down the government and expel Thailand’s parliamentary rule.
Lamlula’s fight started with the blockade of Bangkok’s major intersections, which was carried out by over 100,000 radical demonstrators consisting largely of Bangkok’s middle class. In doing so, the protesters blocked off one of Bangkok’s major government offices. According to various protesters, the demonstrators plan to envelop other ministerial buildings and close off their water and electricity supplies. In addition, students from over 140 schools stayed home, and as a result the schools were forced to shut down. All of these radical movements are in efforts to “shutdown Bangkok.”
The Thailand Government reacted by stating that they would deploy over 15,000 officers and soldiers in order to establish security and to avoid clashes. Additionally, Bangkok authorities have drafted contingency plans to help support civilians through the interruptions caused by the protesters, as it is expected that over one million commuters will be affected by the them. Furthermore, the government issued the protesters with charges of rebellion. However, this only added to Lamlula’s aspirations. It is Lamlula’s opinion that with these charges, “they could not lose.”
Regardless of the outcome, it should be noted that the situation in Thailand is tense. When discussing the matter, Isabelle Arradon, the Amnesty International’s Asian-Pacific deputy director notes, “The situation in Thailand is tense, volatile and unpredictable. There is a real risk of loss of life and injury unless human rights are fully respected.” Also, the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok has issued travel warnings, urging all U.S. citizens to avoid gatherings if at all possible, and to make sure that they carry cash with them for essentials in case the situation regresses. Following the warning, the International Crisis Group made a statement saying, “the scope for peaceful resolution is narrowing,” as if confirming that deterioration in Thailand is more than a possibility.
Recently, widespread rumors have spread suggesting a coup. In preparing for the possibility of a long stand-off, hundreds of tightly arranged tents have been erected within Lumpini Park in central Bangkok. It is here where several thousand Thais have gathered and have been reported boosting their moral by listening to speeches mocking the Thai government. This coup seems to have been in the making over the last 81 years, when considering the 18 different staged coup attempts in that period. Several of the protest leaders have commented on this issue. One such leader, Thanat Thanakitamnuay, jokingly stated, “We expect a few homemade bombs or rounds fired at us, but we don’t expect any serious injuries, or injuries at all. I’m just being optimistic.” While Kasit Piromya commented with a more serious tone, “We have to keep pressure on the government until it is crippled and cannot function.”
Although it cannot be certain whether or not the protesters will succeed in crippling the government in Thailand, it is almost indisputable that the worst is not over in Bangkok.
By Aaron Weis