World 'Their voice is vital' - Thai celebs break silence on democracy protests

10:15  18 october  2020
10:15  18 october  2020 Source:   msn.com

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  Rights group: Scores detained during protests in Belarus KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Scores of people were detained in Belarus on Sunday during protests against the country’s authoritarian leader, who won his sixth term in office in a vote widely seen as rigged, a Belarusian rights group said. Tens of thousands of protesters rallied in the Belarusian capital Minsk for the 10th consecutive Sunday, demanding the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, who has run the country with an iron fist for 26 years. The Viasna human rights center estimated that around 100,000 people took part in the protest, which the police moved to disperse with water cannons, stun grenades and truncheons.

Thousands of protesters in Thailand 's capital hit the streets for a second night on Thursday, defying a government emergency decree aimed at quelling pro - democracy demonstrations that have gripped the country for more than three months.

Thai pro - democracy activist Ekachai Hongkangwan (R) is escorted by police officers after being arrested, at On Wednesday, thousands of protesters marched en mass from the city's Democracy Monument and broke through a police barricade to camp outside Prayut's offices late into the night.

A K-pop superstar, beauty queens and TV personalities are among a growing wave of celebrities backing Thailand's pro-democracy movement, sending out messages of support to millions of followers on social media.

a blurry image of a person: Thailand's pro-democracy protester have adopted the three-finger salute from © Jack TAYLOR Thailand's pro-democracy protester have adopted the three-finger salute from "The Hunger Games" books and films a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera: Pro-democracy protests have escalated this week © Jack TAYLOR Pro-democracy protests have escalated this week

Political statements are unusual from Thai celebs, whose lucrative endorsements rely on the billionaire clans that are a pillar of the country's establishment. But some prominent figures broke cover after police fired water cannon at peaceful protesters in Bangkok on Friday.

Thai protest brought forward over disruption fears

  Thai protest brought forward over disruption fears Thai protest brought forward over disruption fearsBANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai anti-government protesters hurriedly brought forward a demonstration in Bangkok on Wednesday, saying they feared confrontation with royalist groups planning to assemble nearby in support of the king.

The growing pro - democracy movement has been calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha - the former army chief who seized Disillusioned by years of military rule, protesters are demanding amendments to the constitution, a new election and an end to the harassment of rights

Protesters want Thailand 's PM to quit, a more democratic constitution and a reformed monarchy. Authorities threatened legal action against Twitter and Facebook accounts that announced the protests , however fresh calls to action were posted on Saturday despite the state of emergency.

a man standing in front of a crowd: Protesters are targeting the government and calling for reforms to the monarchy © Jack TAYLOR Protesters are targeting the government and calling for reforms to the monarchy

Thai-American K-Pop idol Nichkhun, better known as the "Thai Prince", told his 6.9 million Twitter followers he cannot "stand idly by" after Friday's scenes, an escalation after months of student-led protests.

"The use of violence is something I cannot watch and stand idly by," said Nichkhun, a member of ultra-popular South Korean boy band 2PM, in a message that was retweeted by tens of thousands within hours. 

"Violence has never helped anything. I hope everyone stays safe... and take care of yourselves." 

Friday's showdown was the first such use of force against the protesters, who are calling for the resignation of Premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha, a former military chief brought to power in a 2014 coup, and demanding reforms to the powerful monarchy.

Thai officials call for emergency decree over Bangkok protests

  Thai officials call for emergency decree over Bangkok protests The Thai government has issued an emergency decree as protesters in Bangkok call for the prime minister's resignation. Demonstrators have called for the ousting of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who led the military junta that ruled the country from 2014 to 2019. Protesters are also seeking a new constitution and reforms to King Maha Vajiralongkorn's monarchy, Reuters reported.

Thousands of Thai pro - democracy supporters took to the streets across Bangkok in defiance of a ban on large gatherings and efforts by authorities to thwart demonstrations by shutting some train services. Protesters are calling for greater democracy and reform to the monarchy.

Past protest movements in Thailand have been repressed violently by authorities, and many Thais fear this one will be too. While the protests have their roots in philosophical and generational grievances against the older men who run Thailand , economic and other factors are also at play.

Nichkhun posing for the camera: Thai-US K-pop singer Nichkhun Horvejkul has spoken out in support of the protesters © Aaron TAM Thai-US K-pop singer Nichkhun Horvejkul has spoken out in support of the protesters

It followed a tense week in the Thai capital when protesters defied a ban on demonstrations, and the arrests of scores of leading activists, to return to the streets in their tens of thousands.

Nichkhun wasn't the only celebrity to speak up. Amanda Obdam, the newly crowned Miss Universe Thailand, took to Instagram with pictures of a lone protester pushing against riot police wielding their shields.

"A picture says a thousand words," the Thai-Canadian model wrote. "Your job is to protect the people not harm them."

- 'Abuse of power' -

Video: Early-bird protesters gather in Bangkok as tensions rise (AFP)

Previously, many stars have remained conspicuously silent on hot-button issues in celebrity-obsessed Thailand, where their careers and income are closely tied to product endorsements. 

Thailand protests: Government announces emergency decree to quell pro-democracy demonstrations

  Thailand protests: Government announces emergency decree to quell pro-democracy demonstrations Thailand's government arrested several prominent protest leaders and announced a ban on gatherings of more than five people under an emergency decree Thursday aimed at quelling pro-democracy demonstrations that have gripped the country for more than three months. © Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Pro-democracy protesters seen pushing back Thai police during an anti-government demonstration on October 14, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand. The decree, which came into effect in the capital Bangkok at 4 a.m.

Pro - democracy demonstrators hold pictures of Thai prime minister and junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha on Sunday after elections look set to be On Sunday, in one of the biggest pro - democracy protests in Thailand in over four years, hundreds of people took to the streets for the third time in a

Protest is vital to our democracy , giving a voice to those with no platform or privilege. So next time you read about troublemaking activists, wait before passing judgment. See how many convictions for violent activity are forthcoming, which newspaper or institution publishes apologies in print and online.

Alienating potential employers may be a reason -- especially in a kingdom where every sector hums along under the oversight of the multi-billion-dollar business empires, traditional supporters of the ultra-wealthy royal family. 

But business student Min, who arrived at Saturday's protest with a helmet and a gas mask, said celebrities have a moral obligation to speak up. 

"They are in the elite alongside the government," the 18-year-old told AFP. "Their voice is vital."

That voice grew louder this week. Another former beauty queen, TV personality Maria Poonlertlarp, said in a video on Facebook that the treatment of protesters was "completely unjust". 

She had grown more vocal since the July disappearance of Thai pro-democracy activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit, who was kidnapped off the streets of Cambodia where he lived in self-exile.

"People have been silenced from speaking up about the double standards and the abuse of power," she said in tears, switching between Thai and English.

"We've had a lot of injustice going on in Thailand for decades, fighting against our government for democracy," she added. 

Thai democracy protesters defy ban for fourth day

  Thai democracy protesters defy ban for fourth day Thousands of pro-democracy protestors took over a major Bangkok intersection on Sunday with posters bearing the faces of arrested activists, defying a ban on gatherings and stern warnings from authorities who have escalated a crackdown in recent days. The youth-led movement has suffered several blows this week, with scores arrested after demonstrators surrounded a royal motorcade and flashed a pro-democracy salute to Queen Suthida during a Wednesday protest.

But that same day, President Bush was visiting 10 Downing Street and the police were ordered to close Whitehall, preventing the letter from being delivered. As I was at the head of the protest myself, I saw what was happening – the violence of the police against the demonstrators was clearly visible

Pictured: Protestors throwing eggs at police officers. Many members of the hospitality industry arrived in chef's aprons to bang pots and pans during the Meanwhile, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland all recorded their highest

Seated next to Maria in the video was her partner Wannasingh Prasertkul, a television presenter whose parents were part of a student movement that saw a massacre in 1976 by royalist forces in Bangkok. 

- 'Ignorant people are silent' -

Even some celebrities who have mixed with Thailand's leaders have spoken out. Popular girl band BNK48 visited Prayut at Government House in 2018, where officially released photos showed the normally gruff premier chatting cheerfully with the group.

The visit drew ire from critics who saw it as an attempt to soften the image of the former army chief, who masterminded the 2014 coup and retained power in controversial elections last year.

But BNK48 member Milin "Namneung" Dokthian left no room for doubt about her feelings in a message urging protesters to "stay safe" this week.

"We wouldn't have to say 'be safe' if we had a true democracy," she wrote on Facebook, in a post shared by fellow band-members.

The support from some celebrities, and silence from others, are not lost on the young protesters. Juggling goggles and a helmet at Saturday's protest, 25-year-old Aim scoffed at those who refuse to speak up.

"Perhaps they are out of touch and have grown up in a (privileged) situation," she told AFP, adding that the fans are paying attention.

"We will abandon them because they are ignorant people and are silent." 


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