There is much debate currently taking place within the the Thai pro-democracy movement over some incidence of violence that have taken place during rallies and demonstrations. Last night, another such incident occurred in front of Regiment 1 on Vibhavadee Road.
There have been attempts made by protest leaders from one of the pro-democracy groups, Ratsadon, to curb the use of violence by the protest side – especially the throwing of rocks and firecrackers at police. Ratsadon have printed out pamphlets on non-violence tactics and have implored protesters to not give in to agitation or frustrations.
The protests that have recently been organized by Ratsadon have not seen any violence as a result.
However, the protest on Sunday, organized by Free Youth – a separate protest group, ended in violence with confrontations between the demonstrators and police.
Protesters threw objects that they could find, as well as some with fire crackers and ping pong bombs at the police, with the authorities responding with water canon trucks, tear gas, rubber bullets, and beatings with batons, shields, and boots.
No Free Youth leaders could be found in the protest area.
One former protest leader, Bunkueanun “Francis” Paothong, took to Twitter criticizing the role of the leaderless protest. Francis said that Free Youth were irresponsible for organizing a protest at a dangerous area without any protest leaders and not reacting quickly enough when violence did occur.
“How is this the right way of doing protests when you have people who organize the protest sitting in the comfort of their home?” Francis told the Thai Enquirer on the phone.
“You know by organizing the march [to 1st Infantry Regiment] you are bound to have some [violence] going on. And you are the ones that organized this protest and you don’t show up. You don’t provide any types of planning or withdrawal plan to begin with.”
Francis believes that there should be a clear command system in place in order to prevent the kind of scenes that was seen on Sunday.
“There was even a poll in the telegram group of Free Youth asking whether to stop the protest or to continue to the 1st Infantry Regiment when the crackdown was taking place,” Francis revealed.
Francis also said the entire movement would be better served by taking some time off to recalculate and rest.
“We have been having non-stop protests since August and all of the personnel need to recuperate from this physically and mentally. How you think it is possible to maintain discipline when people are agitated, tired, and demoralized. Instead of doing large scale protests, it’s time to revert back to doing small scale protest and give people time to recuperate, I think it will be a better solution”.
“[There are fears that the movement is losing momentum], it will keep losing momentum if we don’t stop”.