Extraordinary protest puts Thailand in uncharted territory

Protesters flash the three-finger-salute at Sanam Luang, in Bangkok, on Sept 20, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
An aerial view of a pro-democracy rally at Sanam Luang field, in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, on Sept 19, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BANGKOK - It was 10pm on Saturday (Sept 19). Weary young protesters were packing up their gear to leave Sanam Luang, or "royal field", next to Bangkok's Grand Palace, and head home. Daeng, 70, camping out on her straw mat under a tree for the overnight protest, called out: "Don't give up, kids! Make you sure you come back tomorrow morning!"

Daeng is a "red shirt" supporter who still remembers being tear-gassed in the heart of Bangkok during the political turbulence of 2010. Like many other red shirts, she joined this past weekend's protest by student group United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration (UFTD). It turned the event into a reunion of sorts for ageing activists from a network that Thailand's ruling establishment tried to dismantle after the 2014 coup.

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