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Asia Minute: Protestors in Thailand Plan Biggest Rally Yet for Weekend

AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe

Anti-government protestors in Thailand are planning their biggest rally to date this weekend. Organizers say they expect as many as a hundred thousand people to show up in the streets of Bangkok. So far, the government is reacting with caution.

Watch what happens in Bangkok this weekend. It may or may not turn into a volatile protest, but the Prime Minister is concerned enough about the possibility that he went on national television to warn against what he described as negative consequences.

Prayut Chan O’Cha said he welcomes different viewpoints — althoughthe Pattaya News reports he added this is “not the right time for this level of political conflict.”

He seized power in a military coup in 2014, and became prime minister last year following an election that critics say was compromised by unfair rules and restrictions on opposition parties.

Protests have been bubbling for months, flaring into anti-government rallies that have also edged into criticism of the royal family — which is a crime in Thailand. Police say that last month about ten thousand protestors showed up at a demonstration calling for a new constitution, a new election, and other reforms to the country’s political system.

Prayut says political gatherings this weekend could cause another outbreak of COVID-19, which might lead to another lockdown, and further delay the return of foreign tourists.

Critics say the Prime Minister and his ruling party have used the pandemic as an excuse to limit political opposition and free expression.

Activists plan a weekend march on the Prime Minister’s office — an event they say will be peaceful.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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