Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera 18 Oct 2020

Are the latest protests in Thailand a game changer?


Thailand's King is facing his biggest challenge since ascending to the throne four years ago.
Pro-democracy protesters are demanding curbs on his powers and are calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister, a former army general.

Presenter: Imran Khan


Nutta Mahattana - Leader of the 'We Vote' movement.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun - Kyoto University.

Jade Donavanik - College of Asian Scholars.

A pro-democracy movement is sweeping Thailand, and young people are leading the charge. Since July near-daily demonstrations have taken place, with many of the events borrowing from themes in pop culture like spells and wands in Harry Potter, or the symbolism of the Hunger Games.

Demonstrators have grown increasingly fed up over the political order and what they say is a symbiotic relationship between the monarch, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, and the military. Protesters are calling for prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to be removed, parliament dismantled, new elections held and the monarch's political powers lessened.

Tensions reached a turning point in February when the highest court disbanded the country's Future Forward Party, known for its progressive platform and criticism of the monarchy, unlawful in Thailand and punishable with imprisonment. The party won a record number of seats in parliament in elections held in March 2019.

The government has attempted to silence critics by arresting some of the most prominent faces of the pro-democracy movement.

In this episode of The Stream, we ask if the ongoing protests in Thailand will bring about change.
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Presenter: Imran Khan


Abdulaziz Almoayyad -Founding member, Saudi Diaspora Party

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Ali Al-Ahmed - Director, Institute for Gulf Affairs
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The latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic:
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has again declared victory over the coronavirus. She said restrictions in Auckland would be lifted after no new cases were confirmed for ten days. New Zealand appeared to stamp out the virus in May, but a new outbreak hit Auckland in August.

Iceland has introduced new restrictions following a spike in coronavirus infections. The latest wave of infections is thought to be much higher than earlier this year. Bars, clubs and gyms all have to close, and gatherings of more than 20 people are now banned.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen says she is self-isolating until Tuesday after she attended a meeting with somone who tested positive for coronavirus. She said she tested negative last Thursday but would be testing again today. We'll have more details as they comes in.

The World Health Organization is calling Italy an example of best practice in dealing with the coronavirus. Watchdogs are praising both government policies and citizen discipline. DW's Georg Matthes went to Milan to see the people there are faring.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is seeking to close all non-essential businesses and schools in nine neighborhoods that have been identified as virus clusters. Up to five-hundred-thousand people could be affected by the proposed shutdown.

The French capital Paris is being placed on maximum alert for two weeks to curb a new rise in infections. Bars will remain closed and restaurants will have to implement stricter sanitary protocols. The new measures take effect on Tuesday.

In the Phillipines, some 25 million students have begun classes at home. President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered schools to remain shut until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.

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