Asia Minute: Thailand Protestors Mark Anniversary of Military Rule

May 23, 2018

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Thailand has now been under military rule for four years. Several hundred protestors marked that anniversary yesterday in Bangkok—but the police had an even bigger presence. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Reuters says about 500 protestors turned up in two locations in Bangkok on the fourth anniversary of Thailand’s latest military coup. They were outnumbered by some 3,000 police — about a 6-to-1 ratio.

Demonstrators want elections by November. Former general and current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha says they will happen in “early 2019, and no sooner.”

Thailand’s military government has repeatedly delayed fulfilling its promise of elections, and repressive laws remain in place.

Political campaigning is illegal — so are political gatherings of more than five people. The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch says at least 14 people were arrested for violating that law against political gatherings.

There have been other public demonstrations this year.

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Last month, local media reported that more than a thousand people gathered in the northern city of Chiang Mai to protest plans to build a luxury government housing project on forested land near a national park.

As for the arrests in Bangkok on Tuesday, the Asia Director of Human Rights Watch said they show “that Thailand’s military junta has no intention of easing its oppressive rule.”