When we think about dictatorships cracking down on their people, images that tend to get conjured up are of China, Russia, North Korea, or Iran. The reason for this is that they are not our “mates”. It is also completely ignored that Russia and Iran, although flawed actually have mute-party elections.
It turns out though that there are a lot of other much worse dictatorships out there, with the head chopping women oppressing Saudi’s being my personal “favourite” dictatorship.
One country that certainly doesn’t spring to mind is Thailand, the alleged Kingdom of Smiles. Well a lot of the population are not smiling all that much right now.
Military Takeover of Thailand
In 2014 after the wrong party won the election the military took over and ran the country under army rule in 2019, when they decided to have elections. Democracy restored right? Not exactly.
2019 Elections in Thailand
Thailand decided that rulings via the Council For Peace and Democracy wasn’t what the masses wanted so, decided to hold elections. Learning from legendary democrats of Myanmar they came up with one hell of a constitution. Basically 250 of the 500 members of the Senate belonged to the new Thai military political party, so the election was to vote in the opposition, who already existed. Oh and anyone they didn’t like got barred from taking part. As you can imagine the masses were not that happy with this.
October 2020 protests
Due to the lack of democracy and the dire economic situation due to Covid, and the militaries refusal to open the country to tourism Thailand is now seeing its biggest protests since the military took power.
The largely student backed protestors have called for the resignation of the Prime-Minister and amazingly a curb to the powers of the king. Whilst the king has a largely symbolic role even criticizing his dog can land you in prison, so these calls are quite the exception to the rule.
So far 20 people have been arrested and the revolt will no doubt be put down by the military in harsh fashion.
Sounds a bit like Hong Kong?
Actually this is probably much worse than Hong Kong, but Thailand is our friend, so do not expect to see much coverage of the protests as it sadly does not fit the narrative.