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Hullabaloo


Friday, November 29, 2013

 
They're mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore

by digby

Meanwhile, in the land of smiles:
Protesters in Thailand stormed the grounds of the national army headquarters on Friday, asking the military to support their increasingly aggressive campaign to topple Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The army insisted it will not take sides in the dispute.

In a letter addressed to the army chief, the protesters stopped short of calling for a coup but urged military leaders to "take a stand" in Thailand's spiraling political crisis and state which side they are on. The crowd of 1,200 people stayed on the sprawling lawn of the Royal Thai Army compound for two hours before filing out peacefully.

Army commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha responded with a call for the protests to be democratic and law-abiding.

"Don't try to make the army take sides because the army considers that all of us are fellow Thais, so the government, state authorities and people from every sector must jointly seek a peaceful solution as soon as possible," Prayuth said in a statement.

Yingluck has proposed talks but the protesters have rejected them.

The incursion on the army's turf was a bold act heavy with symbolism in a country that has experienced 18 successful or attempted military coups since the 1930s.

The most recent was in 2006, when the military ousted Yingluck's brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is living overseas to avoid a corruption conviction but is central to Thailand's political conflict.

Protest organizers later declared that Sunday would be their "victory day," and told followers to seize all state ministries, state telecommunications agencies and other state enterprises, police headquarters and the zoo.

The targets also include the prime minister's offices. In 2008, anti-Thaksin demonstrators occupied those offices for three months to back their demands that his allies step down.
Sounds like Occupy Wall Street on steroids, doesn't it?

But there's an interesting wrinkle:
For the past week, thousands of anti-government protesters have marched in Bangkok in a bid to unseat Yingluck, whom they accuse of serving as a proxy for her billionaire brother. Thaksin is adored by much of the country's rural poor and despised by the educated elite and middle class who accuse him of widespread corruption and other offenses.
So, Thaksin is a billionaire, and he and his sister are widely loathed by the middle class and elites for their alleged corruption. But the rural poor revere him. (In fact, in 2010 the current government killed about 90 of them in street protests.)

I know very little of Thai politics, obviously. I've written a bit about it from time to time because I lived there as a child and my brother has lived there for many years. It's clearly very complicated, with many details unique to the Thai system and culture. But regardless of how it shakes out, I think it's yet another example of how the status quo is no longer holding anywhere on the planet.

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