8 Strange Stories About Thailand’s Anti-Government Protests

Since November, protesters in Thailand have been demanding the removal of the government. They have marched in the streets by the thousands, occupied government buildings, and conducted a ‘Bangkok Shutdown’ campaign. They boycotted the elections last February and pushed for the appointment of a People’s Council.

Majority of the protesters are from Bangkok who are allied with opposition forces. But they are criticized for their aggressive methods and their decision to reject the holding of elections.

Last week, the protesters got what they wanted when Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was forced to step down after a Constitutional Court ruled that her decision to replace the head of the National Security Council in 2011 was an unconstitutional act.

But Thailand’s political crisis is far from over. Protesters went back to the streets and reiterated their call for the removal of the whole Cabinet. They are planning to stage a ‘final battle’ to end the dominance of the Shinawatra family in Thai politics.

As the confrontation continues between Thailand’s warring political forces, we take a look back at some of the intriguing and strange stories about the protests in recent months. Some are amusing and interesting, while some are a bit scary. But they all reflected the deep divide in Thai society and the enduring impact of the rallies in the country.

1. Protesters buying bulletproof vests made from hospital X-Ray films. Of course it won’t work but the vendor was able to sell many items to protesters who wanted protection against violent dispersals.

2. 500 policemen staged a rally demanding protection from protesters. The rare political action represented 88 police stations in Bangkok. It was organized right after a policeman died during one of the protests. A black ribbon was attached to the sleeves of the police protesters as a symbolic mourning for the dead police officer. They were complaining against the ‘lenient’ approach to the protesters and they wanted tougher measures against attacks during rallies.

3. Protesters planting vegetables in rally sites. There were many amusing scenes inside the protest camps during the ‘Bangkok Shutdown’ campaign but this one somehow reflected the intention of protesters to remain in the streets for an indefinite period. After all, veggies provide nourishment that can sustain protesters during rallies.

4. Unpaid farmers threatened to hold an airport tractor protest. Fortunately, it was called off after the government promised to fix the rice pledging scheme. The threat reminded many people of the 2008 airport blockade which hurt the country’s tourism.

5. Rice farmers placing straw barricade in a road protest. Rubbers are more effective barriers but the straw barricade was also symbolic since it signified that anti-government protests are not only limited in the urban areas. This was bad news for the government since the rural constituency is supposed to be its support base.

Rice farmer protesters block super highway near Bangkok. Photo by Karnt Thassanaphak, Copyright @Demotix (2/5/2014)

Rice farmer protesters block super highway near Bangkok. Photo by Karnt Thassanaphak, Copyright @Demotix (2/5/2014)

6. Handsome Japanese reporter covering the anti-government protests. His name is Enami Daijiro, a 28-year-old reporter of Fuji Television Network from Japan. And during rallies, protesters and bystanders would get distracted by his ‘gorgeous looks’.

Hopefully, many would not forget that a Japanese reporter, Hiro Muramoto, also made headlines after he was fatally shot during the protest crackdown in 2010.

7. ‘Bangkok Shutdown’ merchandise items for sale at protest camps. Protest paraphernalia were sold such as t-shirts, flags, and whistles. The shutdown didn’t paralyze the whole Bangkok but it affected the commercial district.

Protesters' rally sites include many stalls selling shirts and insignia to support the protest. Photo by terry1, Copyright @Demotix (1/18/2014)

Protesters’ rally sites include many stalls selling shirts and insignia to support the protest. Photo by terry1, Copyright @Demotix (1/18/2014)

8. ‘Do not remove traffic cones’ advice to motorists passing rally sites. Many people made fun of protesters being protective of the traffic cones but it is not funny since several people were attacked allegedly by protesters because they removed the traffic cones.


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