Expats lend support to protesters

Expats lend support to protesters

Anti-government demonstrators led by the Free People group gather at the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue on Aug 16. The group demanded the government dissolve parliament, draw up a new constitution and put a stop to threats to its critics. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
Anti-government demonstrators led by the Free People group gather at the Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Avenue on Aug 16. The group demanded the government dissolve parliament, draw up a new constitution and put a stop to threats to its critics. (Photo by Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

In front of Democracy Monument, a grey-haired foreigner said he was "observing" the pro-democracy protest which has become the largest anti-government rally since the military coup six years ago.

Student-led protests have spread nationwide since July 18. On Aug 16, over 10,000 protesters joined the demonstration led by the Free People group to demand the dissolution of parliament, seek changes to the constitution and end government harassment of dissenters.



Protesters flashed three-fingered salutes and chanted against dictatorship. They put up colourful umbrellas -- a symbol of resistance in Hong Kong -- and held banners drawing inspiration from pop culture, including The Hunger Games and Parasite.

An American expat, who identified himself as "Randy", told the Bangkok Post their three demands are "simple" and "reasonable".

"We also have problems about democracy at home," he said. When asked about calls for reform of the monarchy, the man in his 50s declined to comment because "it is difficult for a foreigner to understand the idea that you can't discuss certain subjects".

Earlier, human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa broke the taboo to discuss the monarchy at the protest at Democracy Monument on Aug 3. Later Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, representative of the Student Union of Thailand, read out their 10-item manifesto during the rally at Thammasat University's Rangsit campus on Aug 10.

A German expat in his 30s who now lives in the Phra Khanong area said he joined the rally because although he is a foreigner, he has lived here for 12 years and feels like a Thai citizen. "I feel compelled to stand up for what is right and that is the main reason I am here," the man, who asked not to be named, said.



Chris Baker, a British historian and writer, joined the forum on the theme of "Student-led protests and Thailand politics: Where is it all heading?" at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) on Thursday night.

The historian, who has been based in Thailand for more than 30 years, explained the monarchy and the role of the king in bringing stability and prosperity to the kingdom.


Of Mr Arnon's call for public debate over the monarchy, he said: "This was a hugely historical moment."

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Vocabulary

  • compelled: forced to do something - ถูกบังคับ
  • constitution: the set of laws and basic principles that a country in governed by - รัฐธรรมนูญ
  • dictatorship: a government having complete power and which does not rule democratically - เผด็จการ
  • dissent: strong disagreement, especially with those in power - ขัดแย้ง
  • dissolution of parliament: formally ending the House of Representatives, usually leading to a general election - การยุบสภา
  • expatriate (expat): a person living in a country that is not their own - คนที่อาศัยอยู่ต่างประเทศ (เป็นเวลานาน)
  • harassment: annoying or worrying somebody by putting pressure on them or saying or doing unpleasant things to them - การข่มขู่, การรบกวน, การก่อกวน
  • historical: about history; about events that really happened in the past - เกี่ยวข้องกับการศึกษาประวัติศาสตร์
  • manifesto: the aims of a political party and the things they say they will do if they win an election - นโยบายพรรคการเมือง
  • monarchy (noun): the king or queen of a country and their family - ราชวงศ์, พระบรมวงศานุวงศ์
  • prosperity: the situation of being successful and having a lot of money - ความมั่งคั่ง
  • reasonable: fair, practical and sensible - มีเหตุผล
  • resistance: opposition to some or something - การต่อต้าน
  • salute: to put your hand to your head as a formal way of showing respect to someone, especially a senior officer in the armed forces - คำนับ,แสดงความเคารพ
  • taboo: something you are not allowed to do; a restriction, a limitation; a no no - ข้อห้าม, สิ่งต้องห้าม

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