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Asia Minute: Thailand Protests Return

AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit
Pro-democracy protesters bang on pots and pans to make noises during a protest in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.

The United States is sanctioning the military leaders in Myanmar, following last week's coup. While political uncertainty continues in that country, protests are increasing in neighboring Thailand.

Pro-democracy groups are back on the streets in Bangkok, and authorities are facing other developments in the week ahead.

Reuters reports that hundreds of protestors gathered Wednesday — their biggest rally so far this year. They called for the release of four activists who are now being held without bail on charges of insulting Thailand’s king.

The sound of banging pots and pans echoed through the crowd as demonstrators took a page from protestors in neighboring Myanmar.

Another element that’s now present in both countries — the three-fingered salute of protest known to some from the movie The Hunger Games. In Thailand, that goes with three specific demands: the removal of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a re-writing of the constitution and reforms to the monarchy.

Last year, protests grew in Bangkok until cases of the coronavirus swelled to new highs near the middle of December. Dozens of organizers have been charged on various counts since late November.

On Wednesday night local time, several activist leaders said this week’s rallies are a return to those demonstrations of last year.

Next week, the Prime Minister and his administration face another set of challenges. Proceedings in parliament could result in a censure for the government, and a vote of no-confidence.

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