Tens of thousands of protesters who took to the streets of Bangkok today to put pressure on Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra were largely unopposed by government forces, reports Reuters:
Police and soldiers maintained a low profile as the “Shutdown Bangkok” drive got under way in the city of about 12 million people. The mood was festive, with many protesters singing and dancing in the streets.
Major intersections that normally teem with cars and trucks were blockaded, but trains and river ferries were operating, most shops were open and motorbikes plied the roads freely.
“Don’t ask me how long this occupation will last,” protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said in a speech to supporters carried by the movement’s BlueSky television channel. “We will not stop until we win.”
The article goes on to give some background, but it’s all a little garbled, as mainstream press coverage of a complicated story tends to get. For a more comprehensive look at what’s going on and what it all means, we encourage you to take a look this fine piece running in The Diplomat. Here’s a taste of the lede:
Thailand is no stranger to political turmoil but the current unrest looks set to be a protracted and especially bitter affair, raising the very real possibility of civil war.The stage seems set for a showdown between anti-government forces, backed by powerful vested interests, and a flawed but democratically elected government that enjoys mass support, especially in its rural heartlands.The conflict is being waged between rival factions of the elite, but also on class, ethnic and regional fronts. Predicting the future in Thai politics is futile, but more mass protests and bloodshed on the streets seem inevitable.
It’s easily the best and most comprehensive journalistic piece we have read on the increasingly troubling Thai situation. Every reporter who covers the country and every editor back home should be asking, “Why can’t we do it this well?”