Young Thai activists are adopting Hong Kong tactics

Young Thai activists are adopting Hong Kong tactics
Protesters shield themselves from police water cannons in Bangkok (L) and Hong Kong (R). Source: GETTY IMAGES/COLLAGE
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Daily US Times: Thai democracy activists are increasingly adopting the tactics of Hong Kong’s activists, as they defy a ban on gatherings after months of mounting protests targeting the king and prime minister.

When demonstrators in Thailand’s capital Bangkok held up umbrellas to shield themselves from tear gas fired for the first time last Friday, it was strikingly reminiscent of the anti-government protests that shook the Hong Kong last year.

From gas masks and helmets to flashmobs and hand signals, Thailand’s student-led movement is drawing on the tactics of the Chinese teritorry’s young activists in its own fight for change.

After the arrest of many of many protest leaders in Thailand last week, activists have changed tack.

Pla, a 24-year-old demonstrator, said “They think arresting the leaders will stop us,” adding that thousands of protesters at Bangkok’s Victory Monument on Sunday. “It’s no use. We are all leaders today,” the demonstrator said.

The absence of a centralised leadership was a defining feature of the Hong Kong protest, which continued seven straight months – and what many say sustained the movement for so long.

While there were figureheads, decision-making was devolved with protesters commonly using the secure messaging app Telegram and other online forums to organise – and gather in large numbers quickly.

The use of Telegram has skyrocketed in Thailand in recent days. Since the government ban on political gatherings of more than four people was implemented last week, protesters have used it to co-ordinate rallies.

A group started by Free Youth, a key protest collective in the country, reached the maximum 200,000 subscribers soon after it launched. Authorities in Thailand have responded by ordering internet providers to block the app.

You may read: The flashpoints in a year of anger in Hong Kong