Thais to make some noise, Myanmar-style, against military rule

Update: Ratsadon group said it will move up the rally to 4pm today.

In growing solidarity against military rule in both countries, Thai pro-democracy group Ratsadon said it will organize a demonstration on Wednesday afternoon by clanging pots and pans, just like people have been doing in Myanmar since last week’s coup. 

“Prepare a pot or a wooden stick to make noise. Let’s shout and repel the dictators who are disguised in the form of a useless government,” the page announced. Every day since last week, neighborhoods throughout Myanmar have raised a clamor by banging cookware, a traditional folk remedy to expunge unwanted spirits.

Yangon clamors with protests demanding military stand down (Photos)

Ratsadon’s rally will kick off at 5pm on the Pathumwan Skywalk in front of the MBK Center shopping mall. Its purpose is to show defiance against the government led by Gen. Prayuth Chan-o-cha who, who the group says has to address the economic hardships created by the coronavirus crisis.

The rally will also see members of the Labor Network for People’s Right, a coalition of organized labor groups, show up to demand government relief for all people. 

“We will no longer endure since Prayuth’s government still ignores people’s affliction, letting Thais starve to death and bear the hardship in every way,” Ratsadon wrote in announcing the rally. “No job, no aid money … The government’s work still is lazy. What good does this government do!?”

Police confrontation is likely. Under hasty revisions to the emergency decree on Feb. 3, mass gatherings in areas designated pandemic hot zones such as Bangkok are banned. No attempt to define how many people comprise a “mass gathering” was made. Violators risk two years in prison and THB40,000 fines.

Ratsadon has asked those who want to participate in the rally to wear face masks, practice social distancing and bring hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

After the Myanmar junta chief Min Aung Hlaing seized power Feb. 1 in a coup, wide swathes of the public have taken to the streets, with more than a million estimated out in Yangon yesterday. At 8pm evening since Feb. 2, now increased to three times daily, people have protested by clattering pots and pans – some honking their car horns – to show their anger over the coup. 

Many have also adopted the Hunger Games-style three-finger salute, a gesture of defiance very familiar to Thais who’ve raised it for over six years to resist authoritarianism.

Thailand’s government, led by military holdovers from its own 2014 coup, hasn’t weighed in directly on the putsch carried out by their Myanmar counterparts. A tight-lipped Prayuth Chan-o-cha, the general-cum-prime minister who led the 2014 coup, last week only referred questions to a brief statement by ASEAN chair Brunei that encouraged “a return to normalcy” and vaguely recalled the principles of democracy. Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, another former army commander turned coup-maker, dismissed it yesterday as Myanmar’s “domestic issue.” 

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