The army declared martial law on May 20 and launched a coup after two days. The army chief is now ruling the country. Scores of political leaders have been detained including former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Aside from imposing a night curfew, the army also closed down TV stations, radio stations and controlled the newsroom of major newspapers. Netizens are warned not to post information that would create ‘confusion’ and ‘misunderstanding’.
The military said intervention is necessary to end the violent confrontation between government supporters and opposition forces. It added that reforms must be implemented first before the holding of a new election.
This is the 12th successful coup in Thailand; the last coup was staged in 2006. Bangkok Pundit observed that the anti-coup protest today is bigger compared to 2006:
We got protests last night which were much greater than initial protests in 2006. BP expects them to grow, but it is difficult to predict how quickly as often “events” (such as a solider roughing up, injuring or killing protester(s) can affect things. It is likely to build over time.
One of the memorable actions yesterday was done by a journalist who plastered a red tape on her mouth and posed near soldiers. She was fired by her TV company for posting this photo.
For those who don't know, the woman with the red tape across her mouth is a journalist (a brave one). #ThaiCoup pic.twitter.com/FBBXzfYUxd
— แก้วมาลา Kaewmala (@Thai_Talk) May 23, 2014
Some of the protesters were arrested in the evening.
Anti coup now in front of MBK pic.twitter.com/dEe5jCA56m
— noi thamma (@noithamma) May 23, 2014
Puangthong R. Pawakapan of the Assembly for the Defence of Democracy is confident that Thais will continue to resist the coup:
The military only have weapons, but weapons cannot win over the people’s hearts and change the people’s thoughts. They can only prohibit people from voicing their thoughts and opinions. More people will be arrested in order to create a climate of fear. However, the fear of the people is limited. In the end, we should not underestimate the pride of the people. They will stop being afraid and fight.
For two days, TV channels were forbidden to broadcast anything except the playing of patriotic songs during World War I, World War II, and the Cold War era. These songs were mostly about promoting unity to fight internal and external threats to Thailand. The songs were also inspired by the government’s battle against communists in the 1970s. The army’s Facebook page was flooded by requests and appeals to play other songs. Below are some comments translated by Prachatai, an independent website:
Uncle, as I have to listen to this all day and all night, could you please play songs of Sib Lor?
Can you play Bodyslam's song? I've listened to your songs until I'm soooo patriotic.
I like your songs so much. Can I buy them on iTune? I've listened to them all day. It has made me so patriotic. I can hear my heart beat. I feel so glitzy!
Listened to them all. I can remember all the lyrics now.
Because of the night curfew, business has suffered. It also affected the tourism industry. Schools were suspended for three days. But the anti-government protest camps were finally cleared and protesters were ordered to go home.