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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Protesters Call for Ouster of Thai Prime Minister

The group which calls itself ‘V for Thailand’ has already organized three mass assemblies in Thailand’s capital this month demanding the ouster of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Wearing white Guy Fawkes masks, protesters have decried the alleged corruption in the government.

So far, the group has only managed to gather more than a thousand people in Bangkok although it claims it has strong support in many provinces.

Yingluck is the younger sister of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who is convicted of plunder. Her critics accuse her of being a puppet of her brother.

In recent years, various groups have organized massive street rallies which made a huge impact on Thai politics. Among the big groups are the Yellow Shirts (anti-Thaksin and pro-monarchy) and Red Shirts (mostly pro-Thaksin).

'V for Thailand'‘V for Thailand’
White Mask protest assembly in Bangkok. Photo by Piti A Sahakorn, Copyright @Demotix, (6/16/2013)White Mask protest assembly in Bangkok. 
Photo by Piti A Sahakorn, Copyright @Demotix, (6/16/2013)
Protesters demand resignation of Prime Minister. Photo by Piti A Sahakorn, Copyright @Demotix (6/16/2013)Protesters demand resignation of Prime Minister. 
Photo by Piti A Sahakorn, Copyright @Demotix (6/16/2013)
Protesters in Bangkok wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. Photo by Piti A Sahakorn, Copyright @Demotix (6/16/2013)Protesters in Bangkok wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. 
Photo by Piti A Sahakorn, Copyright @Demotix (6/16/2013)
Writing for the New Mandala, Nick Nostitz probes the recent protests in Bangkok:
While presently the different groups’ aim of overthrowing the Yingluck government seems a bit farfetched as they simply do not have the necessary numbers (yet?), these protests cannot be overlooked.
This present effort could be seen as a warming up period, which may get hotter when the parliament opens in August, and several extremely controversial issues will be debated.
While it is impossible to see the outcome yet, it is clear that Thai street politics remain fragile and unpredictable.
Meanwhile, Andrew MacGregor Marshall thinks the White Mask movement is mainly an anti-Shinawatra movement
This is an anti-Shinawatra movement, pure and simple, and it has little interest in fighting corruption and encouraging good governance in Thailand, beyond the usefulness of these issues as sticks with which to beat the government.
Writing for The Diplomat, Steve Finch interviews a university professor who comments on the use of the Guy Fawkes symbolism:
While the white-mask Occupy and Anonymous movements were typified by unstructured, Communist-driven anarchic sympathies targeted at institutions of power and money, Thailand’s version is using the same symbolism in the name of the upper classes to defend the monarchy
Zashnain Zainal is also surprised that the Guy Fawkes mask is being used by ‘ultra-monarchists’:
An ultra-monarchist, Paisal Puechmongkol, has adopted the Guy Fawkes mask, commonly associated with the global Anonymous movement. Quite a bizarre representation, intentionally perhaps, that Paisal chose the Guy Fawkes mask and the historical representation of the real-life hero – who died in 1606 before his execution, in England for an attempt at the English King's life
Obviously there is an evolution to the Thai revolution. Undeniably a confusion of colors and ideologies
Writing for the UN Dispatch, Faine Greenwood observes that rallyists also included both young and old:
Whatever its origin, the internationally popular Guy Fawkes masks are now getting a considerable amount of usage in Thailand, with three protests so far this month and more planned for the near future.
The protesters weren’t just the young and disillusioned, but included many middle-aged and even elderly marchers, holding aloft signs and pumping their fists, shouting “Shinawatra Get Out” in rhythmic timing.
As of this writing, the group's Facebook page has more than 90,000 likes.