BANGKOK — The next anti-government protest set for next Wednesday is expected to be a prolonged one, as one of the organizers vowed on Tuesday to camp overnight on the historic avenue of Ratchadamnoen.
The protest will be held around Democracy Monument and it will feature diverse speakers on the stage to ensure representatives from many backgrounds, co-leader Tattep “Ford” Ruangprapaikitseree said in a phone interview.
“This time it will be about demands for charter rewrite and House dissolutions. We will focus on criticizing the government,” Tattep said.
Asked whether the 10-point demands discussed in the previous anti-government protest on Sept. 19 will be mentioned by his group onstage, Tattep said, “We may touch on them, but it will be done within the boundaries [of the laws].”
Tattep refused to say how many nights the protesters will camp out on the streets. Another protest organizer said the leaders are well prepared for a prolonged rally.
“It’s a costly thing but we are prepared,” Baramee Chaiyarat said by phone. “We will soon decide in a meeting about the number … We don’t need to have more than 50,000 protesters as it will become a logistic challenge and hard to look after all of them.”
Baramee, who’s the secretary general of the Assembly of the Poor, said at least a hundred members of the grassroot advocacy group based in the northeast will head to Bangkok to join the protest. Media reports say Redshirt supporters will also mobilize and travel in large numbers for the rally.
The last anti-government rally was held on the weekend of Sept. 19 and Sept. 20 by another group, who gave more airtime to the efforts to reform the monarchy. A petition detailing demands for the reform was submitted to a palace representative at the end of the protest.
Baramee said it’s imperative that the protesters come up with a clear immediate goal first as the 10 demands for monarchy reform are heading nowhere.
Another activist, Sirawith Seritiwat, echoed the same skepticism. Sirawith was one of the speakers on the Sept. 19 protest, but he said in today’s interview that pushes for monarchy reforms may end up driving away supporters of the movement.
“If they are not ready to go that far with the protest leaders and the ceiling of freedom of expression comes crashing down, a new ceiling may be even lower,” Sirawith said.
Momentums for the 10-point demand seem to fizzle after the Sept. 20 rally. Protest leaders responsible for the petition to His Majesty the King said at the time that they will carry out more actions if no response was made by the palace. But the response never came, and so did the activists’ retaliation.
The monarchy reform activists also threatened a general strike nationwide on Oct. 14 to pressure the authorities to hear their demands, but a labor activist said there’s no chance the strike will actually take place.
“It’s not possible,” Wasana Lamdee said. “The labor movement has very little bargaining power now. It would be suicidal to ditch work.”