thailand protests
Pro-democracy protesters during anti-government protests in Bangkok (Image: SOPA Images/Geem Drake)

When Thailand’s quasi-military government finally turned on protesters last Thursday with a typically ham-fisted overreaction that included water cannons and a slew of arrests, it only served to further anger a population fed up with the six-year administration of Prime Minster Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The popularity of the street marches, a long-favoured tactic of Thais who oppose the ruling government of the day, and one that has been effective in the past, has spread into broader society. Originally fomented by student leaders in July 2020, they have their genesis in the government banning of the Thai Future Forward Party and its charismatic leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit in February.

An emergency decree forbidding the assembly of more than five people and publication of information that “could create fear” or “affect national security” has been summarily ignored by protesters who have adopted the defiant three-fingered salute of rebels in The Hunger Games franchise.