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Pro-democracy protesters raise three fingers, a symbol of resistance, during a rally in Bangkok, Thailand Pro-democracy protesters raise three fingers, a symbol of resistance, during a rally in Bangkok, Thailand, Aug, 16, 2020 (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

Why Thailand’s Leaderless Protests May Have Already Succeeded

Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020

Towering over a traffic circle in downtown Bangkok, the Democracy Monument has borne witness to Thailand’s tumultuous political history. Built over eight decades ago, it features arching white wings that stand seven stories tall. At their base are militaristic images commemorating the country’s bloodless revolution of 1932, which ended the absolute monarchy and began a rocky transition to democracy.

Since then, Thailand has gone through 18 constitutions and 13 coups. Along the way, the Democracy Monument has become a site of frequent popular protest—and violent suppression. In 1973, for example, security forces killed dozens of protesters who had gathered near the monument; in 1992, pro-democracy demonstrators were killed there again. Despite that bloody history, on Sunday, Aug. 16, during the largest protest since the country’s most recent coup, in 2014, a group of around 20 young activists stood under the monument and, surrounded by thousands of demonstrators, issued a challenge to their government: “If you have a warrant, arrest us now.” ...

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