Thailand protesters run against ‘dictatorship’ in Bangkok

About 10,000 people registered to join the run dubbed as ‘Run Against Dictatorship’ in Bangkok, Thailand on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 12 January 2020

Thailand protesters run against ‘dictatorship’ in Bangkok

  • Organizers said 10,000 people registered to join the run, the biggest political demonstration in years
  • The trigger for Sunday’s rally were moves by courts to dissolve a popular, new progressive political party

BANGKOK: Thousands of anti-government protesters took part in the “Run Against Dictatorship” in the Thai capital Sunday in the biggest political demonstration in years.
Organizers said 10,000 people registered to join the run, which included slogans demanding Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the leader behind a 2014 coup, stand down.
In a sign of rising political tensions, government supporters held their own event in a downtown park.
Last year’s general election was meant to restore full democracy, five years after the military staged the coup. But the poll rules were widely seen as favoring the pro-military party.
The government’s sluggish economic performance has added to a growing sense of discontent.
“Everything’s worse,” one participant, an office worker who gave his name only as Sakdinan, said through a face mask. “The economy is worse and people are facing difficulties including freedom of expression.”
The trigger for Sunday’s rally were moves by courts to dissolve a popular, new progressive political party.
The Future Forward Party came from nowhere to become the third largest group in parliament with 80 seats. Their anti-military agenda made many younger Thais flock to their banner in a challenge to the deeply conservative ruling elite.
The party’s rise in popularity has been met with legal cases, through the Election Commission and the Constitutional Court, for a number of alleged breaches of the law. Many now assume the party will be found guilty and dissolved, possibly even this month.
The party’s charismatic leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, has emerged as the galvanizing figure behind the growing protests.
On Sunday, the billionaire businessman-turned-politician said he was delighted by the numbers who came to show their support.
“The people show great awareness of the political situation,” he said, in between posing for selfies with excited supporters.
“I believe that in order for Thailand to be able to be a democratic country again, the first step is that General Prayuth has to get out and the people here today I think we share that feeling. This is the demonstration of the anger of the people.”
Similar runs were organized in other provinces Sunday, leaving many to wonder whether Thailand is heading for another prolonged bout of street politics. Rival camps have occupied parts of Bangkok, and sometimes fought running battles, several times over the last 14 years. The unrest has triggered two coups and led to more than a hundred deaths.


Ukraine to press for plane crash black boxes as Iran minister visits

Updated 20 January 2020

Ukraine to press for plane crash black boxes as Iran minister visits

  • Ukraine’s foreign minister said returning the black boxes would show that Iran wanted an unbiased investigation of the crash
  • The plane disaster has heightened international pressure on Iran

KIEV: Ukraine will press Iran to hand over the black boxes from the crash of a Ukrainian passenger plane at a meeting with a visiting Iranian delegation on Monday, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told reporters.
Ukraine would convey the message to visiting Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami, that returning the black boxes would show that Iran wanted an unbiased investigation of the crash, Prystaiko said.
“His main task is to apologize and acknowledge what happened. We hope that we can go a little further than just political discussions and discuss practical problems. Among them in particular is the return of the black boxes,” Prystaiko said.
Iran had said on Sunday it was trying to analyze the black boxes from the airliner its military shot down this month, denying an earlier report it would hand them to Ukraine. All 176 aboard the flight died.
“At first they stated that they were handing them over, then the same person stated that they were not handing them over. This created some misunderstanding in Ukraine and we were starting to be asked: are they being handed over or not?“
Many of those killed had were Iranians with dual citizenship, but Iran does not recognize dual nationality and on Monday said it would treat the victims as Iranian nationals.
Canada, which had 57 citizens on the flight, said there were still no firm plans for downloading the recorders. Ottawa and other capitals have called for the black boxes to be sent abroad.
The Jan. 8 plane disaster has heightened international pressure on Iran as it grapples with a long-running dispute with the United States over its nuclear program and its influence in the region that briefly erupted into open conflict this month.
The Iranian military has said it downed Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 in error in the aftermath of tit-for-tat strikes by the United States and Iran. But authorities delayed admitting this, prompting days of protests on Iran’s streets.
Ukraine held a ceremony at Kiev’s Boryspil airport on Sunday as the bodies of 11 citizens, including nine crew, were returned to Ukraine.