10/14/2020: Thailand, defying a curfew, tens of thousands of protesters have again flooded the streets of Bangkok and other cities to challenge the ban on gatherings of more than 5 people at a time. A high price is being paid in terms of arrests and abuse, the precise details of which are unknown at the time. All we know is that hundreds of young people are being selected out and whisked away from groups of protesters. Usually the most vocal is taken. Leadership is targeted.
The Thai government’s hostility to the exercise of civil and political rights, the right to protest in particular, has intensified over the course of the past five months. Authorities who enforce the will of the monarchy and the military, both challenged by the protesters, have imposed draconian state of emergency measures - ostensibly in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Increasingly using those measures as a pretext to ban anti-government rallies and harass pro-democracy activists, the government seems prepared to go to extreme measures to retain the status-quo. The protesters, however, show an energy and leadership - especially in terms of the female presence - that has not been seen in the past, suggesting a much more difficult challenge than what has been raised heretofore.