Waiting for the change in Din Daeng
Young demonstrators gather against the government in the Din Daeng area. (Photo from Bangkok post)
It was after dusk that the first detonation sounded somewhere in a war zone. “They’re just warming up,” said a young dropout waiting for his friends amid an explosion near the Din Daeng intersection bridge in Bangkok.
The standoff between young protesters and crowd control officers has continued for more than two months. The neighborhood has become a battleground where tear gas and rubber bullets are exchanged for fireworks and slingshots.
Emerging from the shadows, this anti-government demonstration comes to life. A group of young people developed the Thalugaz (penetrating gas) group, which follows the principle of non-violence of reprisals. This departs from the usual anti-government protests, especially student-led rallies.
The clashes give rise to debates about their legitimacy. On the one hand, the demonstrators were criticized for vandalism, in particular for having set fire to traffic police kiosks and royal portraits. On the other hand, officers were denounced for lack of professionalism in the dispersal operations as in the hit and run where the car of an officer hit a young protester and crossfire.
In light of this, Life spoke to three young protesters who joined a protest last week to topple the government because its mismanagement of coronaviruses is causing economic hardship.
Calling a good leader
As if sitting around a campfire, a small group of protesters take turns expressing their anger, citing the government’s failure. A stone’s throw away, a middle-aged woman sings the folk song Ror Pee Tee Din Daeng (I am waiting for you in Din Daeng), which provides a romantic setting for events. Another teenager stares into space and smokes an electronic cigarette.
“I want to be a mechanic. I want to buy and add accessories to my bike. It makes me happy,” said Ben, 20, who graduated from high school but dropped out of vocational school due to financial problems in 2019. If possible, he wants to continue his studies.
Ben lives with his blue collar parents in Don Muang. After leaving school, he started selling food products online to support himself and his girlfriend. However, with the coronavirus, things have gone from bad to worse. It is very difficult to make ends meet.
“I joined the protests last year to express my dissatisfaction with the government’s mismanagement of the pandemic, including insufficient financial aid and unemployment. Above all, I see no future,” a- he declared.
Ben said he didn’t agree with the violent clashes, but when officers cross the line, protesters hit back. Nonetheless, he admitted that some hardliners are deliberately provocative, which can lead to severe repression. He was hit in the coast by three rubber bullets.
19.30. กลุ่ม ผู้ ชุมนุม ทะลุ แก๊ ซ รวม ตัว กัน บริเวณ เชิง สะพาน ข้าม สามเหลี่ยม ดื น แดง
“I was arrested on August 18. An officer told me he didn’t want to come here but nai sang my (my boss gave an order), “he said.
When asked how a good country should be, he said he should uphold the rule of law and respect diverse political views.
“I want the government to rewrite the charter. I don’t want to interfere with the reform of the monarchy,” he said.
Following the crackdown, the number of demonstrators, mostly young vocational school students, declined. However, some of the protesters are adults and the elderly, including the outspoken elderly protester Worawan Sae-aung or Pa Pao.
Another teenager sits casually on his bike. Petch, 20, dropped out of high school and became a security guard before the coronavirus led to a mass dismissal. He lives with his parents in Bang Sue. When the construction camps closed, her father lost his job and his income. Meanwhile, her mother sells less because people are spending less.
“I come here to ask for the eviction of Tu [Prayut’s nickname]. I don’t agree with the violence, but we didn’t start it. However, I’m afraid people will call us a hothead, “he said.
The youngest boy, 17, who asked not to be named, was a professional student and part-time rider. However, the coronavirus forced him to take online classes, which did not offer a hands-on experience. He lives with his parents in Bang Kae, but they have been made redundant and are struggling to earn an income from menial jobs.
“I don’t see any future here. I don’t want anything noble but at least a mediocre life. We want the government to improve. We don’t want to face the officers but there was no negotiation,” he said. he declared.
Our conversation ended at 7:30 p.m. as the nighttime curfew is still in place. Thai human rights lawyers reported that crowd control officers rounded up 16 protesters, nine young people and seven adults, between 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Since July, police have arrested more than 630 protesters for breaking the law.
The Metropolitan Police Office considered the protesters to be rioters, not protesters, because they cause unrest, damage public property and violate laws, including the Emergency Decree and the Disease Law. transmissible.
(ค ฝ.) นั่ง รถ กระบะ เคลื่อนที่ เร็ว เข้า มา ที่ แยก ดินแดง จับกุม กลุ่ม วัยรุ่น และ ยึด จักรยานยนต์ ได้ จำนวน หนึ่ง
Pol Maj Gen Piya Tawichai, deputy commissioner of the MPB, said the daily anti-government protests will continue but will decrease as the protesters face severe prosecution.
“From now on, protests are likely to occur in two places, Nang Loeng and Din Daeng, but the number of protesters will not be high. In the coming days, the lawsuits will be intensified,” he said. he declares.
However, there is still controversy surrounding the case of a 15-year-old boy who was shot in the neck on August 16 and has been in a coma since. On September 30, police arrested a man in Kanchanaburi for allegedly shooting the teenager.
Major General Pol Piya said the suspect, who lived in an apartment in Din Daeng district, was upset by the protesters and shot them at random.
Snowballing tit for tat
Assoc Prof Phichai Ratnatilaka Na Bhuket, a political scientist at the National Institute for Development Administration (Nida), said the current conflict stems from the interaction between protesters and crowd control officers.
Initially, protesters gathered to call for General Prayut’s resignation. As a result, authorities have put up containers and barricades for security reasons as the location is close to the Prime Minister’s residence. When the protesters encroached, officers responded using water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets. Since then, reprisals have erupted.
“Later, those suffering due to the economy also joined the protests, which further escalated the violence. Therefore, the area has symbolically welcomed those who are not satisfied with crowd control officers. Meanwhile, the protesters who honored their demands have I don’t know who started the violence, but when one cracked down, the other fired back, ”he said.
Phichai said authorities can take the initiative to defuse tensions, as they have a greater potential for resorting to violence. Crowd control officers should monitor protesters from a distance rather than confronting them. In addition, they should negotiate with the protesters to find common ground.
“The situation will improve if the government has the will to solve the problem rather than leaving the agents to deal with it,” he said.